Posted in News on 02. Feb, 2011
If there’s any truth that the D-backs might have acquired the 2nd coming of Craig Counsell (a scrappy, popular utility player), there’s one person who would know: the only man to have coached both players.
“Willie came in as an 8th round draft pick and left as a 3rd rounder,” said Murphy.
“He was a no doubt Big Leaguer not because of his talent but because of his attitude. I felt the same way about him, Couns and Dustin Pedroia. They were gonna find a way to get to the Big Leagues.”
Bloomquist, who signed with the Diamondbacks on January 18, can see why the comparison exists.
“I’ve always been compared to him in the past and that we do sorta the same thing and we’re blue-collar players,” said Bloomquist.
“If I could be compared to him I must doing something right. He’s been around the big leagues a long time. I blink my eyes and I’ve been here eight years. I try to pride myself on doing the little things: playing the game hard, playing the game right.”
“The most obvious similarity is that they’re two of the greatest people you’ll ever meet,” said Murphy.
“I’d want my son to be replicas of those two guys.”
Coach Murphy is not alone in linking the two. This week Bleacher Report named Bloomquist and Counsell two of MLB’s 15 “scrappiest players,”along with former Murphy’s most famous pupil, Pedroia)
In Bloomquist, the Diamondbacks add a career .264 hitter and a diverse defender (who has played every position but pitcher and catcher in each of the past two seasons). Bloomquist occasionally hits in Murphy’s backyard batting cage and his college coach says Bloomquist appears “the best he’s ever looked.”
“The thing about Willie is he’s never had a chance to play everyday,” said Murphy.
“Who knows what he’s capable of if he got that chance?”
Bloomquist did play everyday at Arizona State (starting all 175 career games) and was one of the most decorated players in program history before being drafted by the Mariners.
“Willie took every at bat personally,” said Murphy.
“I remember being in Oregon one of our first trips to Oregon State and he had everybody and their brother there… and he an an 0-fer and we went back to the hotel. His Dad came up to me and said, ‘What’re we gonna do about Willie’s swing?’ I told him ‘I’m gonna sleep well because I know if your son takes an 0-fer the next day he’s good for four hits.’ The next day he got five.”
In January 2010, Bloomquist defended Murphy (who had just been fired by Arizona State) in an editorial published by the East Valley Tribune.
The 1999 Pac-10 Player of the Year stands by his sentiments.
“I love ASU to death and I bleed maroon and gold but I love Pat Murphy more,” said Bloomquist.
“To me it’s a flat out shame, that school lost the best man for that particular job anywhere in the country. It’s not just about putting together a winning program, it’s about the life steps that he helps guys. You talk to everyone who’s played for him and they’ll say Murph taught me a heck of a lot about life.”
“The guys that can’t say that aren’t really the type of guys I’d want to associate with anyway.”
Bloomquist will now spend Spring Training and the regular season at home in Scottsdale (his commute to the D-backs’ sparkling new Salt River Fields is ten minutes).
“I can’t say a thing other than it’s a blessing. There’s a lot of things about this game that aren’t easy, it’s not easy on my wife and kids (daughters Natalie and Ava),” said Bloomquist.
“It’s gonna be great staying at home almost living a normal life, being able to be home on a daily basis, sleeping in my own bed, being able to take my kids to school.”
And what about playing in a stadium just minutes from Coach Murphy?
“That’s one of the thousands of reasons I’m so be happy to be here. I can stop by his house after a game and rap with him. I’m sure he’ll be watching a lot of my games too,” said Bloomquist.
“Of course he works for the Padres now so he can’t give me advice.”
“He’s a friend for life,” said Murphy.
Bloomquist has a “Moonlight Graham”-like history with his new home ballpark. One game. One run. Never came to bat. (Bloomquist pinch ran for Kenji Johima and scored the go-ahead run) “At least I took batting practice there,” said Bloomquist.
Bloomquist has one fear: snakes. “My oldest daughter teases me that Daddy’s playing for the team that has the snakes. I’m deathly afraid of them. I snake-proofed my yard. I told my friends I don’t care what kind of pranks you pull. I’ll take it with a grain of salt. But if you throw a snake in there, we’re fighting. I promise.”
So it’s probably a good thing for Bloomquist and his new employer the Diamondbacks have a bobcat for a mascot.