Murphy has penchant for catcher's interference

Murphy has penchant for catcher's interference

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Statistically, catcher's interference does not go down as an at-bat for a hitter. The catcher is given an error on the play and the hitter is awarded first base.

Yet unlike a bobble on a hit ball to a fielder, catcher's interference does not cost a hitter an at-bat.

"It's an 0-for-0," said outfielder David Murphy. "Believe me, I've checked."

He has reason to check. Murphy has become the foremost expert on catcher's interference, and his knack for reaching base in this most unusual manner is coming through again this spring. Murphy reached base that way both Thursday night against the Padres and on Friday night against the Indians.

2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info

Twice in two nights is highly unusual, but not for Murphy. He reached base on catcher's interference four times last season, including twice in one game against the Mariners.

"The other night, umpire Bob Davison told me that if I keep doing it, they'll stop giving me first base," Murphy said. "He seemed serious ... I hope he was kidding."

Catcher's interference is one of the rarest plays in baseball. It so is so rare that STATS, Inc. does not keep track of it during the season. This is the same statistical service that ranks hitters on bunt hits, infield hits and times reached on an error. But there are no leaders listed for reaching on catcher's interference.

"It's never happened to me," said third baseman Michael Young, who has had 6,707 plate appearances and -- according to STATS, Inc. -- has seen 25,222 pitches in his career. "People ask the question a thousand times, is Murph trying to do that? David Murphy is the most honest guy I know. If he says he's not, he's not."

Jim Sundberg ranks eighth all-time in games caught. He played 1,927 games behind the plate, caught almost 16,000 innings, and was called for catcher's interference just a couple of times.

"I think it was two or three," Sundberg said. "Certainly less than five. I'm surprised it's still happening to him with the way scouting reports are these days."

Said bench coach Jackie Moore, another former catcher, "Pretty soon you're going to have catchers back on the grass when he's up."

So what's going on with Murphy?

"I just think that when I get two strikes on me, I'm making sure I don't get beat out front on soft stuff," Murphy said. "I'm waiting to see the ball as long as I can. Sometimes I'm not trying to hit the ball, but just foul it off and swinging almost at the time it gets to the catcher's glove.

"But if you're trying to do it, if you're trying to hit the catcher's glove, you're not going to hit the ball. But every time I've had catcher's interference called, I've hit the ball."

Murphy reached on catcher's interference in his second plate appearance on Friday. In his third plate appearance, he blasted a pitch deep over the right-center-field fence for a home run.

"That's pretty good," Moore said. "One time he uses that weapon, the next time -- boom! -- he uses that other weapon."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.