Murphy talks 'heartfelt, difficult' trade process
During Wednesday's game, Flores' reaction to false rumors impressed Padres manager
NEW YORK -- With Major League Baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline hovering ahead at 4 p.m. ET on Friday, make no mistake about it -- all of the rumors have a deleterious effect on the players. No matter what they might say.
The Padres' clubhouse has been ticking like a time bomb all week, with Justin Upton, James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner all queried about their fate. Nothing has happened yet.
"It takes a huge toll on them," San Diego interim manager Pat Murphy said before Upton's three-run ninth-inning homer after a 44-minute rain delay gave the Padres a stunning 8-7 decision over the Mets at Citi Field. "You just have to tell them to try and not to block it out, and let them go through their emotions."
On Wednesday night, Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores did just that, actually breaking into tears when he heard he had been traded to the Brewers along with Zack Wheeler for Carlos Gomez. As it turned out, he hadn't.
"I know you guys think it's easy to play this game, play it like that with all this [stuff] going on during the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I mean, that's hard for anybody. And I feel terrible for Wilmer. There's not a better kid in that clubhouse than him."
Most of the players are pretty stoic. They know trade talk at this time year is a big deal for the fans and media. And social media just seems to stoke the flames. On Wednesday night, 24,804 fans in Citi Field thought they knew something that Collins didn't know -- and they gave Flores a standing ovation when he came up to hit in the seventh inning.
Collins said he turned to bench coach Bob Geren and asked what that was all about. Flores had been traded, Geren responded.
Had that been the case, any thinking person in the ballpark might have wondered why Collins hadn't already yanked Flores from the game. There were two options: either the reports of Flores being included in the trade were wrong, or there had been no trade. It turned out to be the latter. Collins opted to pinch hit Ruben Tejada for Flores in the bottom of the ninth.
"You know what I think? If it was a done deal, they would have called me and said, 'Take him out of the game,'" Collins said. "Nobody called me to take him out. Finally, we just said, 'We don't know what's going on. Let's just take him out.'"
In the other dugout, Murphy watched this all unravel. Unlike Collins, he had heard about the trade and was watching intently at Flores' reaction.
"I've known Wilmer and watched him play the past three seasons," Murphy said. "I love that it affected him that way. I love that he cared like that. That just told me so much about him as a person."
Murphy played a few games of his own, pulling out Ross and Matt Kemp in a double switch during the fifth inning and Upton after seven. Ross had been hit in the right quad by a line drive and was pulled for precautionary reasons. The Padres had a sizeable lead when Murphy decided to rest Kemp and Upton.
"I just wanted to get those guys off their feet," Murphy said that night. "It's been a long season for them. And to give you guys something to think about."
Of course, the Twitter universe blew up with trade speculation, and Murphy had a good chuckle about it.
"On Twizzler?" Murphy said. "That's great. I usually don't get on Twizzler too much. Nah, I really wasn't playing with you guys. Sometimes I say stuff tongue-in-cheek. The truth is, I really did need to get them off their feet."
Asked by a member of the media if the media should learn a lesson from all this and police itself better, Murphy said: "This is a billion-dollar business. You guys are the way [fans] find out about stuff. You're kind of experts in your own right. I don't think it's a lesson for you guys at all. I think it's what you guys have to do. I respect what you guys do."
Collins fully agreed.
"I get it. I totally get it all," he said. "All I can tell you is that I know it's part of the game, I know it's all part of the business."
Certainly, sports are like no other business. It isn't as if the layperson is going to work tomorrow and find out he's been traded by Staples in Dallas to an Office Depot in Miami. Sports are singular when it comes to this, and the Trade Deadline is a big part of the business.
"It certainly affects the players and their families," Murphy said. "I don't think anybody can get used to that."
As far as the Padres are concerned, most of them have been through it before. Upton was in a huge swirl of controversy for months when he was with the D-backs, and he was finally traded to the Braves. And then Atlanta traded him again, this time to San Diego. Ross was traded by the A's to the Padres, and Cashner by the Cubs in the deal for Anthony Rizzo.
If any of them is traded again before the Deadline, Murphy knows how he'll handle it.
"It's not life-and-death stuff," he said. "How do you handle it? Straightforward, genuine. Go call your people. Say goodbye to your teammates. Give them a hug and let them know. It isn't callous, believe me. It's heartfelt and it's difficult."