New Year and The New Job

Pat Murphy’s job description doesn’t change much with his recent promotion to manager of the AAA Tucson Padres. More importantly to the Murphy household, son Kai (a baseball kid if there ever was one) keeps his “unofficial job.”

“He’s a little advanced for being a Bat Boy,” says Murphy, who will have Kai home schooled during April and May in Tucson (father & son are nearly inseparable) “He keeps a chart for me, he watches video. He hits Fungos before the game. It’s a gift to see him out there.”

Murphy was named the Tucson manger on October 23rd after two highly successful seasons with the Short-Season Eugene Emeralds, claiming the Northwest League’s best overall record in 2011 and 2012.

“Those two years were really valuable just to see how pro baseball works,” said Murphy. “There is somebody at 30,000 feet watching this thing with a bigger picture in mind. It’s kind of neat to be in the kitchen cooking everyday but to keep your eye on the person at 30,000 feet looking at the whole thing. I continue to learn about the game. There’s a different level of focus, most importantly, you learn about baseball. This is about people. What’s really exciting is to see somebody make a mental adjustment and grow as a player.”

Many thought Murphy would return to the college game and he nearly ended up at West Virginia before accepting the AAA job.

“I went over to the pro game for some time to pass and for the NCAA (investigation of ASU) to take its course and with the outcome coming out so good I thought it was inevitable I’d be back in the college game,” said Murphy. “After being here a couple years, I enjoy it. It’s a little tougher lifestyle for my son but I think it’s really healthy.”

“I don’t think there’s too many guys that’ve coached at the places where I’ve coached at very long. It’s not common for a college coach to end up in this position because college coaches go down that track and usually don’t flip over. Having said that, what a great challenge. Maybe it opens a door for some other college coaches to enter the pro game and enjoy it the way I do — because I enjoy it.”

The faces won’t be totally unfamiliar to Murphy after being assigned the AAA players in the past two Spring Trainings but this will mark his first real games with players beyond college and the entry-level professional ranks.

“The stakes are higher,” said Murphy. “The guys are more ready for Major League Baseball — some of them will have already been there; getting an opportunity to be a part of that process, helping them to get to be their best self is really exciting.”

If Murphy can win, that will be a dramatic (and welcome!) change for the Padres’ AAA affiliate, who has finished last (or tied for last) in its division every year since 2007. In 2012, Tucson finished 15th out of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League (54-88). Manager Terry Kennedy was dismissed, opening the door for Murphy.

Murphy and his staff (Batting Coach Tom Tornincasa and Pitching Coach Bronswell Patrick, both new to AAA) want to set up what he calls “a winning environment.”

“Winning baseball is what it’s all about in any level, “ he said. “I don’t care if you’re in D ball — it doesn’t mean you’re compromising your player’s development, but it’s about winning playing baseball, respecting the game and playing it the right way.”

One of the most exciting of the new responsibilities will be telling his best players they’ve been promoted to “The Show.”

“They’ll be some pretty cool days calling guys into the office,” said Murphy.

“A lot different than telling them, ‘You’re going to Fort Wayne.’ That’ll be really fun to tell guys, ‘You’re going to the Big Leagues.'”

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