A GRAND TURNABOUT : Homer Welcomes Murray to the National League
Eddie Murray was beginning to feel “very foolish” and confused in his first week in the National League. Then came the grand slam.
Off to a 2-for-25 start as one of the newest Los Angeles Dodgers, Murray suddenly looked like the same man who hit 333 homers in 12 seasons with Baltimore in the American League.
“It was kind of a welcome-to-the-National-League hit for him,” Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser said.
The grand slam came in the ninth inning Monday night against San Francisco, ending a five-run rally for a 7-4 victory that ruined the Giants’ home opener. (Story, Part III, Page 1.)
The 33-year-old Murray still is hitting only .115, and his two other hits are singles. For Murray, it’s just another in a long string of slow starts, though. That’s the way he is.
The difference this year? As the key off-season acquisition of the defending World Series champions, he was acutely aware that his annual spring slump was drawing a lot of attention.
“When I saw the ball go over the fence, I thought, ‘Finally I did something,’ ” Murray said.
“I expect this from myself--to do things,” he said. “Not so much what everybody else expects. But I was starting to think about what everybody was expecting of me. . . .”
In Los Angeles, fans were anticipating a seven-time American League All-Star with a .295 career batting average and a .412 average with the bases loaded. They expected to see baseball’s active grand slam leader--now eighth all-time with 15 just behind Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Dave Kingman--not an .080 cleanup hitter with zero RBIs and runs scored.
Murray hit a split-fingered fastball from Mike LaCoss--or so he was told.
“I’m so confused at this point that I have no idea what the pitch was,” he said. “I was just trying to get one run in.”
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was not worried that Murray had lost his touch, even though he had fallen to the two lowest batting averages of his career the past two seasons.
“He’s one of the greatest clutch hitters in baseball,” Lasorda said. “We knew it was just a matter of him getting adjusted. Kirk Gibson started that way last year.”
Murray said his slow start has nothing to do with switching leagues, though.
“I just wish I knew something that would get me off to a good start,” he said. “This is maybe my ninth bad start in 13 years. I have no idea what causes it. I hit the ball well in spring training.”