After making a rapid rise to the majors, New York Mets outfielder Daniel Murphy is still trying to convince himself that last season was real.
After playing one game with Triple-A New Orleans, the 23-year-old converted infielder received his call to the majors Aug. 2, just over two years removed from Jacksonville University.
He batted .313 in 49 games and now joins Fernando Tatis as the tandem projected to cover left field.
"At the end of the year, you look back and you are excited about what happened but never satisfied," Murphy said. "I went into this offseason thinking I want to win a World Series and I want to be a part of a team that wins a championship. That was my goal all offseason. Every time I went into the weight room, swung a bat or took a pop-up, that was it."
Murphy had to learn quickly in his rookie season. He had played just 285 games in the minors, and only four of them in the outfield.
The Mets were counting on his offense when they called him up to replace Marlon Anderson, who went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
Murphy was one of the organization's top hitting prospects after batting .308 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in Double-A Binghamton.
The Florida native takes little credit for his immediate impact and said his biggest lesson learned was "just staying within yourself."
"Any success I had last year can be attributed to this organization and the coaching staff and players that welcomed me in," Murphy said. "I can't say enough about how comfortable they made me feel and at ease I was when I came up."
Murphy downplays his quick movement through the organization.
Just two years ago, he was preparing for his first season of professional ball with the St. Lucie Mets, where he played 131 games at his natural position at third base. Mets vice president for player development Tony Bernazard saw the potential of the talented hitter and asked him to move to second base early last season, knowing that David Wright had a lock on third base.
Injuries to the New York outfield created a need for another position change, but Murphy jumped at the opportunity.
"My thought has always been I'll play wherever they want me," Murphy said.
As far as defense goes, Murphy knows he has plenty of room for improvement. That's part of the reason he arrived in spring training Feb. 1 _ about 12 days before pitchers and catchers were required to report.
Murphy played second base in the Arizona Fall League because that's where the Mets had designated him when they signed him up in July, and he only played outfield in 32 games at the major league level.
"It's something you have to work on," Murphy said. "Now my job is to get as crisp and consistent in the outfield as I possibly can be."
Tatis, who also had a breakout season in 2008, has been spending time with the infielders this spring, but plans remain for him and Murphy to split time in left field, manager Jerry Manuel said.
"Right now, with the introductions of fundamentals in the infield, anybody we feel will have a chance to play there we want to have an understanding of what's going on and where to be," Manuel said. "With the length of spring training, we still have plenty of time to get Fernando his reps in the outfield."
Murphy doesn't mind the platoon and he hasn't questioned his future role with the team.
"I am approaching it like I am going to play every day, and whenever I'm in there, try to help this team win," Murphy said. "Right now the future is a run at the World Series in 2009."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.