The lost souls of spring training

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Each year at spring training, Jack Murphy, a Toronto Blue Jays prospect loses a few teammates and friends that were with him the year before.

Highlighted during camp in March are the prospects with bright futures, but often forgotten are those who didn’t get to come back.

A new group of players emerge while others, like friends and teammates of Murphy’s, are left behind to find a new career path.

“Literally, every year I lose two or three buddies,” said Murphy, a 23-year-old catcher. “It sounds like they die, but they kinda do as far as baseball’s concerned because your whole life is scheduled around it.”

Baseball futures change quickly and players never know if this will be their last shot. Prospects like Murphy have made lifelong bonds with their teammates.

Murphy made light of the grim situation by quoting a comedic box office hit.

“I think of it like the Wedding Crashers scene,” said Murphy. “[Owen Wilson] is at the wedding and he keeps saying we lost so many good men out there. We lose guys to trades and arbitration I just don’t wanna talk about.”

Murphy, like many players at spring training, is simply hoping to stay in the game as long as he can.

“Things change so fast that you don’t want to set yourself up for that heartbreak,” said Murphy. “I learned early on that pro baseball just works a lot differently than you think it does.”

This year might be the last for many players at spring training, as baseball is unpredictable and it’s tough to know what coaches are looking for.

“It’s not all the time about how a guy is performing on the field or how or what he’s doing necessarily, sometimes its like where they see you in a few years or what kind of fit you are for that team,” said Murphy.

“There’s so many factors that go into it, you can’t just say you know where he’s going to be so you never know.”

Murphy who hit .222 last season with the Lansing Lugnuts, committed only five errors while maintaining a .987 fielding percentage. He hopes if somebody did know where he was going early in spring training he’d be the first to know. Right now though, his focus starting off the 2012 spring training season is pretty simple.

“My goals tend to be stay healthy and get back there next year,” said Murphy. “Just come back for another year, the longer you can hang around the better.”