Head start helps Murphy spring into action

Content to back up Suzuki, new Twins catcher works out with pitchers after studying video

Head start helps Murphy spring into action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As a new member of the organization, Twins catcher John Ryan Murphy had been looking forward to the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers since being traded from the Yankees for center fielder Aaron Hicks on Nov. 11.

That day finally came on Monday, as Murphy caught Minor League right-hander Randy Rosario in a bullpen session and participated in several catching drills. But it wasn't anything too new for Murphy, who has been working out at the club's complex for a week and has already caught bullpen sessions from Twins pitchers Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins.

Molitor champions pitching before 1st workout

"Everything is brand-new, so I got here last week to kind of get acclimated and get my feet wet," Murphy said. "I felt good all week, and today was the first structured day. I felt great. I'm really excited."

Murphy is still trying his best to learn all the different pitchers in camp, and he expects it to be an ongoing process throughout the spring. He said he got a head start by asking for video of all the club's pitchers in late January so he could watch them on his iPad.

"I got them to send me a bunch of video after TwinsFest, so I was able to kind of familiarize myself with the pitchers with video," Murphy said. "But a lot of that will be done this month, and talking with Kurt [Suzuki, catcher] a bunch and [pitching coach] Neil Allen. Just getting to know the guys."

Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule | Complete info

So while the Twins believe Murphy can be their catcher of the future, they plan to take it easy on him early on, as Suzuki is set to remain the club's regular catcher heading into the season. As Murphy gains more experience and learns the pitching staff, he's expected to see his playing time increase. Murphy has played in 115 career games to Suzuki's 1,102 games over the last nine seasons, and the Twins value Suzuki's experience and leadership despite his down year last season.

"I'm heading into camp thinking that Kurt is going to be our starting catcher," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "To try to make some sort of assessment that John Ryan Murphy is ready to be more than someone who backs up Kurt, at least once things get started, would be taking a leap. Spring Training can be tough to gauge. J.R.'s games and at-bats aren't really high up there yet."

Murphy, 24, said he's fine with the arrangement and doesn't view it as a position battle. He sees Suzuki as someone who can help mentor him much like his experience with Yankees catcher Brian McCann.

"Personally, I don't look at it as a competition," Murphy said. "We're a team, and everybody in here is a team. Until that lineup is up there on Opening Day and that lineup is set, we're one unit."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.