David Murphy wants to improve vs. lefties

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy took an inventory of his game, as he does every offseason, and set some specific goals for spring training.

The first was to improve his defense, something he talked about last week. Murphy said there were too many balls that he should have been able to get to and he didn't in 2011. But the second part of the equation is his offense against left-handed pitchers.

"I'm not overmatched, but I could be hitting better against them," Murphy said. "I want to get more consistent in my approach."

Murphy, a left-handed hitter, batted .215 in 107 at-bats against left-handed pitchers in 2011. For his career, Murphy is a .253 hitter against lefties, so he knows he can hit better against them.

"I've started trying to stay small in the middle of the field," Murphy said. "What I mean by that is not trying to do too much. Find a pitch I can hit and drive it, but not swing too hard."

Murphy said he caught himself doing some good and bad work against lefties on Monday. He stayed back and made a nice swing to hit a single to center to drive in a run against lefty Bruce Chen. But that was with men on base. When there wasn't anyone on base against a lefty later in the game, Murphy was swinging hard and was retired easily.

"I came back to the dugout and thought, 'What am I doing?'" Murphy said. "I need to take that approach against lefties whether there's men on base or not."