I was really thankful for the opportunity I had in 2005. The guys -- the Cubs players, staff and organization -- really welcomed me and that made all the difference in the world. As far as how to deal with stuff on and off the field, that was big in helping me get past the hump and making the adjustment to being in Major League Baseball.
Once I became comfortable with my surroundings and environment, I allowed myself to relax and start playing a little better. Hopefully, that will carry over to 2006.
You have to find a way to be confident in your abilities while still respecting the game of baseball. On one level, you need to know you're capable of putting up solid numbers, but you also need to be mindful that it isn't always going to just happen and that you have to keep working at it every day. I just try to go out and compete and let the numbers take care of themselves as the year goes along.
I'm playing with some veterans in the outfield like Marquis Grissom, Jacque Jones and Juan Pierre. Those guys couldn't be better in terms of communicating with me and leading by example. They all have such tremendous work ethic. Juan is always one of the first ones here and last ones to leave. You can always find him out in the cage working on his bunting or some other aspect of his game. He doesn't neglect any part of the game.
Marquis has so much experience. I find myself asking him a lot of questions about how to play hitters in different situations of the game. He's also been helpful with fundamentals, like reminding me to keep my legs under me on groundballs that get through the infield -- just little things that he passes along that will hopefully stick and make a difference somewhere down the line.
I came over to this organization as part of the Nomar Garciaparra deal. You can't really tell how a trade is going to work out for you in baseball right away, but in this case, it seems to have led to an opportunity to play in the Majors maybe a little faster than if I had stayed with Boston. But that's all speculative. I still have to respond on the field and make it happen.
For my part, I want to stay within myself and be the player I am. The biggest part is learning how to be a professional and bringing your game to the park every day. If you can go out and compete every day with the right mind-set -- something that's easier said than done -- you can succeed. I look at it as a process. I want to keep getting closer and closer to the point where I can remain focused and locked in on the game for 162 games every year.
My role is to come out every day with a professional attitude and work hard. Hopefully, I can bring some life and competitiveness to the team, and that will help us win more ballgames overall. Obviously, we have a lot of good players in here so I don't have to carry a heavy load by myself. If I can do enough to help put us over the top, that would be great.
Drafted 32nd overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Georgia Tech by the Red Sox, Matt Murton began to establish himself as a Major Leaguer last season when he batted .321 with seven homers and 14 RBIs over 140 at-bats for the Cubs.
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