Red Sox

Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Murphy knew that he was facing an uphill battle to make the Red Sox Opening Day roster when he signed a minor league deal with them last month.
    
For Murphy to make the roster, he needed something unforeseen to happen -- a significant injury to the starting outfield or veteran backup Chris Young -- or a major decline in performance from one of the four.
     
With neither having taken place, Murphy almost certainly won't be added to the roster before Sunday, when he has an opt-out clause he can exercise. Nor does Murphy sound too interested in spending further time at Pawtucket, awaiting an opening in the big leagues.
     
"(The Red Sox) have the luxury of waiting until Sunday,'' said Murphy. "So I expect it to take until Sunday.''
     
He could remain with the organization and bide his time in Pawtucket to open the season. But at 34, Murphy is on record as saying that he has already spent enough time in the minor leagues and isn't sure he's motivated for more.
     
"If I don't make the team here and I don't wind up without a big league job throughout baseball,'' said Murphy, "I'll need to take some time to think because the way this off-season developed and getting here happened quickly. The entire off-season is kind of unexpected, the way that things unfolded. It is what it is. Whether I like it or not, you get to a point where there's things that you can't control.
     
"There's an argument for sticking around and an argument for going home.''
     
Murphy finds it odd that it's come to this. Last year, he hit .283 with 10 homers and 50 RBI, and figured if nothing else, that would get him a major league contract.
     
It didn't. With teams valuing young players -- and their inherently cheaper salaries -- he found himself without many options. Finally, he took a minor league deal -- with the promise of a $2 million deal if he made the big league team -- with a spring training invite, even though it appeared as though the Sox were set in the outfield.
     
Jackie Bradley Jr. was set in center, with Mookie Betts a lock in right. Rusney Castillo has yet to demonstrate what he can do over the course of a major league season, but having signed him for seven years and $72.5 million two years ago, the Sox weren't about to give up him now. Finally, they signed Young to a two-year $13 million guaranteed deal last winter.
     
Murphy still opted to come here. Options were closing, and if nothing else, there was a sense of familiarity for Murphy, having spent his first four years as a pro in the Red Sox organization.
     
"Slowly but surely, doors were closing,'' said Murphy.
     
He's hit .296 this spring with a .370 OBP, though he's shown little pop with just two extra-base hits -- both doubles -- in 27 at-bats.
     
"I fee like I've been myself,'' said Murphy. "The thing that I've done in my career, to set me apart from some other players, is have good at-bats and be a tough out. I'm not a guy who's going to come in and blow people away and I don't think they expected to me to come in and do that.
     
"I've been on winning teams before and I know what it takes to win. And I think that could be my role here.''
     
But tellingly, he wasn't in the lineup Tuesday in Jupiter nor Thursday, and with the Sunday deadline bearing down, that leads Murphy to believe that the Red Sox have made up their mind -- one way or another -- on him.
     
Ironically, one of the teams said to be in the market for an experienced outfielder is the Los Angeles Angels, with whom Murphy finished last season and who declined to pick up his $7 million option.
     
So Murphy waits, wondering how it is that, after a good season and at just 34 years old, whether there's much left in his baseball career.