For the first time in what seemed like months, the Triple-A All-Star break notwithstanding, catcher Dustin Garneau got back-to-back games off with the Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday and Friday.
That was due to the arrival of catching prospect Tommy Murphy, who was promoted from Double-A New Britain and started both games. Now Garneau is back to where things started for him this season, splitting starts behind the plate, albeit with a new/old platoon mate.
“It’s not going to be a big adjustment given that I’ve already done it before this season,” said Garneau, who was sharing time with Ryan Casteel before the latter was injured. “It’s not going to be too bad.
“The extra day off is going to make me feel a little better, too. Can’t really complain with days off at this time (of year).”
Garneau and Murphy have played together in seasons past, including at the start of last year when both were with Double-A Tulsa. Murphy ended up spending most of 2014 on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, while Garneau earned a midseason promotion to Colorado Springs.
Now both are together again in Albuquerque. Murphy, ranked by Baseball America as the Colorado Rockies’ No. 6 prospect before the season, has gone 3-for-8 with an RBI in his first two games as an Isotope.
“You know, it’s nothing crazy different, I’d say, from Double-A,” Murphy said. “The park’s definitely different, it’s nicer here, obviously.”
Garneau is three years older than Murphy but he does not feel this is any sort of mentoring relationship with his fellow catcher.
“I don’t want to consider myself a mentor, I don’t want to be seen as above him or anything,” Garneau said. “I’m a minor-leaguer just like him, I don’t have any big-league time. But we talk all the time about hitting and catching. It’s more of an even playing field.”
While Murphy probably gets more attention from Rockies fans due to his prospect status, Garneau has been opening some eyes as well this season. Entering Saturday’s game, Garneau has hit .268/.353/.512 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI while also earning rave reviews from his pitchers for his pitch calling, preparation and overall defensive work.
“I hit some homers down in Low-A (Asheville in 2011) but consistently from top to bottom this has been probably the most season of my career,” “Basically it’s just keeping things simple. That’s the difference between this year and years past.”
As for Murphy, he has shown that he is healthy this season, batting .249/.320/.478 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI at New Britain before he recently got the opportunity to catch for Team USA at the Pan-American Games in Canada.
“It came at a great time,” Murphy said. “The dog days were starting to set in for minor league baseball. But you go up there and every game, every pitch, every second means something. It was a huge shot of life. I’m just trying to bring that shot of energy back to here.”
Now that Murphy is back in the regular minor-league grind, Garneau said he and every Isotope has to dig deep to get through these last six weeks.
“This is a growing point for some guys,” Garneau said. “All you can worry about is what’s between the lines. That’s the only thing that’s going to get you traded, called up, (sent) down or anything that really matters.”
Garneau will start at catcher and bat fifth for Dukes Retro Night on Saturday. Murphy will get his first day off as an Isotope.