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Murphy figures into Marlins' plans
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07/11/2004  9:21 PM ET
Murphy figures into Marlins' plans
Double-A starter impresses in Futures Game stint
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USA's Bill Murphy pitched one scoreless inning against the World team on Sunday. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
HOUSTON -- On Sunday afternoon, Bill Murphy tossed one scoreless inning facing some of the stars of tomorrow in the All-Star Futures Game at Minute Maid Park.

If the 23-year-old left-hander keeps progressing, his big league debut with the Marlins could come in the near future.

Because Josh Beckett is out indefinitely, the Marlins have yet to decide on a starter for the fifth game after the All-Star Break. Murphy, now at Double-A Carolina, is one possibility to start on July 20 against the Mets at Shea Stadium.

"It would be great," Murphy said of reaching the big leagues that quickly. "I'd be ready for it, that's for sure. If it happens, hopefully I can go up there and help the team win."

The Marlins are considering several options for that start, including moving reliever Nate Bump into the rotation, or going with left-handed veteran Darren Oliver, who opened the season as the fifth starter. Bringing someone up from Triple-A Albuquerque is another possibility.

"This game right here prepares everybody," Murphy said of his experience Sunday in Houston. "If you get called up tomorrow, you have to be prepared. You're playing against the best minor league players in the game. It kind of prepares you here."

After the break, the Marlins travel to Pittsburgh for three games. A.J. Burnett will go on Friday, followed by All-Star Carl Pavano on Saturday and Brad Penny is set for Sunday.

Dontrelle Willis will face the Mets on July 19 at Shea Stadium.

Last May, the Marlins brought Willis up from Double-A and the left-hander went on to become National League Rookie of the Year. The organization isn't shy about giving its young players a chance. Double-A outfielder/catcher Josh Willingham was called up a few days ago.

Murphy showed promise on Sunday, working a scoreless fifth inning in the U.S. Futures' 4-3 win over the World Futures.

The left-hander didn't allow a hit, struck out two, walked one and had a wild pitch.

Asked how he felt he did, Murphy noted he was a bit wild, as usual.

Command with the lefty is key.

"I'm trying to locate my fastball a little bit better," Murphy said. "My fastball has been a little erratic at times. If I work on throwing my changeup and fastball, and use my fastball as an out-pitch, I'll be all right."

For the Mudcats, Murphy is 6-3 with a 3.77 ERA. His control is an issue, as he's walked 53 in 90 2/3 innings. But his strikeout total of 102 is impressive.

Of late, his fastball has gained some steam, as he's clocked regularly around 89 to 91 mph. His second pitch is a changeup and he throws a curveball.

Formerly in the A's organization, Murphy is adjusting to a new philosophy. Florida's minor league pitching coordinator Dean Treanor made it clear early that the Marlins are developing fastball/changeup pitchers throughout the minor leagues. Murphy was told his curveball would become his third pitch.

Murphy joined the Marlins as the player to be named later in the Mark Redman trade with the A's. Reliever Mike Neu also was part of the deal.

A California native who lives in Riverside, Murphy was stunned when he heard the news on Dec. 23, 2003. He already was preparing to open Spring Training in Arizona for the A's. And he had even moved to Phoenix.

"I had no idea it was coming," Murphy said of the trade. "I was looking forward to going to camp. I moved out there to Phoenix, and then I got a call saying I just got traded. I was like, 'Here we go.' I was going to Florida. It was kind of weird. But it is part of the game. You have to accept it and just go and try to impress another team."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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