The man, the myth, the legend, the Murph. I got a chance to sit down and talk with Tom Murphy about his start to the season, what it is like catching this Mariners pitching staff, and his new choice in catchers gear. Hope you all enjoy it!
I started out asking Tom where his mammoth opposite-field power has come from (evidenced by homering off of reigning Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes at the end of Spring and then following it up with a 423-foot blast off the Target Field facade in his first start of the season.)
Murph was humble about the bombs, attributing adjustments and hard work to the power. The first thing he brought up was getting healthy this offseason. Health is an important part of the equation, as he missed all of 2020 and looked like 2021 was spent playing catch-up. He also talked about changes he made to his swing load in an effort to be more productive and consistent. Hopefully, these changes will pay off in a big way for Murph in 2022.
Playing his college ball in Buffalo must have prepared Tom for this series, as he explained that it hasn’t been bad at all playing in Minnesota. He did however talk about how excited he is to be back at home in front of Mariners fans:
"“Can’t wait to be back in Seattle, love that place, and it is one of my favorite ballparks ever.”"
Murph is also rocking new catchers gear this year in an effort to better protect himself from the impacts of concussions playing behind the plate. Jason Klein, a former umpire and the founder of Force3 Pro Gear, visited Murphy at his home to show him the gear. They went through the product together, and right away he could tell it was what he needed behind the plate.
When talking about concussions, there is no telling how many times he has experienced one:
"“With the face mask that I am using now through Force3, I trust that it isn’t going to happen anymore.”"
Catchers around the league are exposed to these damaging injuries and Force3 is the company working towards stopping concussions behind the plate in baseball.
Tom stated that he hopes that players of all levels will move towards this gear, and away from brand names. His hope is that players will begin protecting the one head we are all given, and put trust and value into their gear when suiting up behind the plate.
The 2021 Mariners had a knack for winning one-run games, and to no surprise, 2022 started the exact same way. Tom Murphy said this is not by design, but the team has gotten comfortable and embraced their way of winning:
"“The most important thing is the culture we built last year in the second half; I think it really showed through in those games and it carries us throughout the season.”"
Tom Murphy caught second-year starter Logan Gilbert in the Saturday edition of the Twins series, and I got the chance to ask him about Logan and his development:
"“He has the best fastball of any starting pitcher I have ever seen.”"
Murphy lauded Gilbert and his preparation, and how impressive it is for a young pitcher. His offseason adjustments combined with his talent make him…
"“as impressive as anyone I have ever seen.”"
This is incredibly high praise from his catcher and should excite Mariners fans.
Tom has gotten the chance to work with this Mariners bullpen over the last two years. The bullpen continues to impress, naming guys like Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, and Diego Castillo as guys to give credit to:
"“It is so impressive because from the catching side, those guys have just simplified what they need to do and execute it every time.”"
Murphy has handled the bullpen arms and guys like Logan Gilbert seamlessly for the last two seasons. Getting his perspective as a leader of a pitching staff is extremely valuable and interesting because he works and catches these guys every single day.
After missing 2020 and struggling in 2021, Tom Murphy could use a big year in 2022. His late Spring Training power surge in combination with his first start of the year has things looking up for Tom, and we should all be rooting for him as a leader and a huge part of what the Mariners have built on the pitching/catching side.
Hopefully you enjoy the conversation! Go Mariners!