SURPRISE, Ariz. -- David Murphy was a big part of the Rangers from 2008-13 even though he seemed to face the same two questions every spring.Where are you going to play? How much are you going to play?Murphy never knew the answers in Arizona; everything seemed to work out once
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- David Murphy was a big part of the Rangers from 2008-13 even though he seemed to face the same two questions every spring.
Where are you going to play? How much are you going to play?
Murphy never knew the answers in Arizona; everything seemed to work out once the Rangers arrived in Arlington. The Rangers found playing time for Murphy and he would get 400-500 at-bats every season in a six-year run. During that span, Murphy hit .272 with a .335 on-base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage while averaging 24 doubles, 13 home runs and 58 RBIs per season.
He also learned an ageless lesson about Spring Training predictions: What actually happens during the regular season is almost always completely different than what's talked about in the spring.
Ryan Rua is starting to understand that, too. He finds himself in the David Murphy situation of not knowing where or how much he is going to play. Like Murphy, he doesn't outwardly agonize over it.
"I just try to contribute when I'm out there, whether it's coming off the bench or getting a spot start," Rua said. "Do something to contribute, whether it's offensively, defensively or running the bases, and put my team in a position to succeed."
Rua is similar to Murphy. They are both outfielders with no particularly outstanding talent: power at the plate, speed or glovework. They are both overshadowed by higher-profile and higher-paid teammates. They are just solid all-around players who know how to play winning baseball.
"Yeah, they are similar," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Ryan is a good player. He can play different positions, he is quiet, respected and a hard worker. As long as you work hard, you are going to earn respect and he's doing that. You can see how talented he is, I don't think we've seen the best of Rua yet."
Rua is trying to win an everyday job in left, something he did in 2015 before suffering a fractured heel in the first week of the season, and that competition is ongoing. He could also serve as a fourth outfielder and right-handed-hitting alternative to Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo, and he can back up Mike Napoli at first base.
He still has an infielder's glove if needed at second or third. He is smaller than Murphy, but has the edge in versatility. Rua also understands how valuable Murphy was to two World Series teams.
"You saw the career he had here, the success he had and the way the fans loved him," Rua said. "His work ethic kept him playing the game. For me, it's playing 110 percent every day and putting the team in position to win."
Winning teams need those players even if their roles aren't clearly defined in the beginning. Winning baseball leads to clarity.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.