David Murphy wants to push for playing time

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- David Murphy began his preparations for spring training this weekend in a familiar position: fourth outfielder.

That seems odd for a guy who started most of the playoff games for the Rangers in 2010. But manager Ron Washington has said that he sees his outfield heading into camp as Josh Hamilton in left, Julio Borbon in center and Nelson Cruz in right.

"Murphy is an integral part of the outfield," Washington said.

But integral doesn't mean starter. Murphy would like to change that.

"I want to be a starter," Murphy said. "I think what I did the second half of last season proved that I'm good enough to be a starter, but I can't control how the lineup is made out. So I'm going to help out however I can like I always have. How can I argue with the success that we've had over the last year?"

Murphy said the key to getting more playing time is starting the season better. Murphy hit .162 in April last year and was 3-for-31 in April (.097) in 2009. For his career, Murphy is .219 in April, by far his worst month in terms of average (the next lowest is July at .261).

"I think that's the one variable if you look at the last two seasons," Murphy said. "I think fact that I've gotten off to poor starts has taken away from a lot of playing time early on. I don't blame them for that. I have to do my part and take into consideration what I can control."

Murphy, whose wife is due with the couple's third child and first boy, Cole, on March 8, said he's going to focus more on getting his timing down quicker.

"Not that I haven't been focused in the past, but really work hard and lock in on my timing," Murphy said. "That's been the biggest thing that's been off the last two Aprils and that I'm not missing pitches I should be hitting."

Murphy, though, wants to see the team do well no matter what happens to his playing time.

"I think for me to get that many at-bats, either I'm going to be forcing someone to the bench or somebody's going to be hurt," Murphy said. "It's hard to get four guys that many at-bats. I don't want to plan on my teamamtes getting hurt. If things go as planned and everybody's healthy all year long, I'm sure I won't get that many at-bats. It's a team game and I'm here for my teammates."