Mariners’ Tom Murphy describes how he’ll handle ‘interesting’ 2020 season
With Mariners players set to report for the second round of spring training this week, we’re on the cusp of a very different-looking baseball season in 2020.
Aside from there being just 60 regular season games – which will be played in just 66 days – some new rules will be implemented as well. One key change is that if a game goes to extra innings, the inning will start with a runner on second base.
While some members of the media and baseball analysts are on board for any changes in 2020 to see “what sticks” and could be implemented in future seasons, some players aren’t necessarily fans of that specific change. Presumed Mariners starting catcher Tom Murphy, one of the surprise players last year for Seattle thanks to hitting .273 with 18 home runs and 40 RBI in 75 games, is one of them.
“I’ve been a part of it quite a bit in the minor leagues. Actually we lost the gold medal game when I was a part of Team USA during the (Pan American Games) to that rule,” he told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Friday. “I personally have never been a fan of it. I don’t see it as baseball, I don’t see it as any sort of complement to the past or anything like that. I don’t understand it, but at the same time it’s not my decision to make and it’s something we’re going to have to try and work with the best that we can and hopefully this is the only year we’ll have to deal with it.”
Among other things Murphy and other players will have to “deal with” are related to social distancing and keeping distance from some of his fellow players. For a catcher, that’ll be especially different with how Murphy communicates with his pitchers, though he doesn’t see that as too big of an obstacle.
“It’s going to be interesting, obviously not being able to get close to them and all that,” he said. “But I’m a pretty vocal person when I’m on the baseball field, so honestly, I’m sure I’ll be able to get my point across with these guys regardless of how far away from each other we are.”
The process of getting a 2020 MLB season was rough for everyone involved in the game. Negotiations between the players and owners was public and ugly and at the end of the day, the two sides couldn’t come to terms on an agreement and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had to set the terms for play. Murphy is glad all that is in the past and that he and the Mariners will be able to play ball this year.
“It was a terrible couple of months just waiting in limbo and not really knowing what was going on,” he said. “And when (the season was announced) it was just a weight off our shoulders on the players’ side and we’re all happy to get back to it.”
And when the Mariners return to action, aside from some rule changes regarding extra innings and the designated hitter in the National League for the first time, one potential big change is there’s a very strong chance teams will be playing in empty or nearly empty stadiums.
“It’s going to be very odd. I’m not sure what to expect with that,” Murphy said.
Murphy joked that when he played college ball at the University of Buffalo, he “basically played in front of no fans for three years.” He also said that while it will be strange, his love of the game is ultimately what drives him.
“I truly enjoy baseball, so it’s not necessarily about the noise of the crowd that gets me going or anything like that. It’s the love of the game,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a totally different atmosphere than what we’re used to and it will certainly take some adjustments on our end. It’s just another piece of the puzzle again this year.”
You can listen to the full conversation with the Mariners’ backstop, which includes who he feels are leaders on the team, at this link or in the player below.