The SnakePit Interview: Bill Murphy

If you've been watching MOJO's series The Show - and if not, I want to know why, with a note from your doctor - then you'll be familiar with pitcher and Diamondbacks prospect, Bill Murphy. A left-hander like all the best people [who, me?], he was acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Dodgers in the July 2004 trade for Steve Finley, shortly after appearing in the All-Star Futures game (left). He's currently with the Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders, and the 26-year old has posted a 3.16 ERA in 36 games out of the bullpen for them, very solid numbers in the hitter-friendly PCL. Recently, the SnakePit got a chance to ask Bill about life in the minor-leagues, pitching and his radio show.

You were originally signed by Oakland, but also spent some time with the Marlins (and, very briefly, the Dodgers) before joining the Diamondbacks. Is there much difference between organizations or do they all do things more or less the same way?

The Diamondbacks, obviously, have their new way. When I first got here it was a lot different: each year there are more rules. The Marlins are pretty strict...Oakland's pretty free-spirited: they let you do what you want as long as you come to the field prepared to play. The Diamondbacks have a lot of rules that they want you to follow, and you better follow them.

The leap to Double-A is often said to be the hardest for hitters. Which step did you find the toughest as a pitcher, and why?

I went from A-ball to double-A, and I found that to be the toughest. When you get to double A, there's a lot more pitches being taken. Guys are not as aggressive, they are looking for a pitch to hit. Nowadays in double-A, a lot of guys are younger, [but] when I was coming up a lot of guys were older. It's a little different from when I was coming up.

How much are you thinking about the game at hand and how much are you thinking about the people evaluating and judging you in terms of being able to move up?

I think about the game all the time, about my game. I really don't think about what goes on outside or what people are watching me do. As long as I know I'm doing my job, somebody's gonna see me and somebody's gonna appreciate what I'm doing and give me a shot sometime.

Front office types, analysts, and fans in baseball now are divided into two camps - guys who look at stats and guys who rely more on 'hustle', 'grit' and such. How do you evaluate players yourself - and how would you want to be evaluated?

I evaluate it on if you're doing what they ask you to do. Obviously the Diamondbacks cover all those aspects - play hard, follow the numbers, do all that stuff. Our job is to do what they ask you to do or you're not going to have a shot with them. For me, to view other players, if you can do it you can do it, and if you can't you can't. Period.

Having been both a starter and a reliever, is it harder having to prepare to come into every game, compared to being a starting pitcher and knowing which day is "yours"?

As a starter, you've got every fifth day. There's no change, you know what you have to do, you've got all that time to get ready for that fifth day. As a reliever you gotta prepare yourself mentally and physically every single day to go out there and pitch, because you have no idea if you're coming in the 1st inning or the 12th inning or whatever it is. You have no idea.

What's the most useful baseball advice you've ever received?

Play hard. If you're playing hard, giving 100 percent, and you don't make it, at least you know you did your best to get there.

You've done some work this year hosting a local radio show in Tucson. How did that come about, and is it what you expected?

I just told [Radke], "hey, let me do my own show." He said, "come up with your own topic, do whatever you want, and I'll let you do." It's been great, it's fun. I'm having fun with it. Everyone's having fun with it. It's cool.

Yogi Berra once famously said, "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical." How important is the mental side to your game?

It's huge, because I can go out there and give up two, three runs and have to bounce back the next day. You totally have to leave what goes on between the lines, between the lines. What goes on the next day, or the previous day, has to be eliminated. You got to start over every day.

What's the toughest thing about life in the minors? And, conversely, what's the best thing about it?

The toughest thing has to be the travel. Travel for the PCL is just brutal. It's grinding. It gets on you. Being away from your family sucks. In the minor leagues, once you get to a point, like triple-A, there's nowhere to go but the major leagues.

[The best thing is] the different people you meet, the different cities you get to go to. The best thing is you learn more about yourself being in the minor leagues than you would anywhere else, because it's a gut check on how much you really want something. This is what the minor leagues is all about.

[Many thanks to Bill for taking the time out to be interviewed; thanks also to My-lan Beauford of Fanscape, Inc for making it happen. The Show screens Wednesday nights at 7pm [AZ time] on MoJO HD. See their site for more information]

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