Eddie Murray is back in the big leagues and back with the Dodgers, which is enough to make the intense slugger happy. Well, close enough for him.
The future Hall of Famer was among nine players the Dodgers called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday when the rosters were expanded to 40. This is Murray's second stint with the team, having previously played for the Dodgers from 1989-91.
It was that experience, plus his relationship with Executive Vice President Fred Claire, that made Murray eager to rejoin the Dodgers. Murray's facial expression is as emotionless as ever, but he insists he's excited.
"I enjoyed my three years here the first time, and I have a good relationship with Fred," said Murray, whom the Dodgers signed to a minor league contract Aug. 20 after he was released by the Angels on Aug. 14.
"Me and Fred had a good talk about what he expects. I can handle anything as long as you tell me what my role is."
With the Dodgers, Murray, 41, will be counted on for timely pinch-hitting during the crucial days of the regular season. And having a 20-year veteran on your bench during September's pressure-packed moments can't hurt.
Murray batted .308 (eight for 26) with two home runs and drove in nine runs in nine games for the Dukes. His job won't be easy, but he said he's ready for the challenge.
"Pinch-hitting is very difficult," said Murray, who batted .219 in 46 games for the Angels.
"I've done it a few times, but it's not like I'm an expert on it. I'm just going to try to help. To be part of a winner is what it's all about. This is what makes you feel good."
Whether Murray can still catch up to big league fastballs remains to be seen. Manager Bill Russell said Murray will be given chances to try.
"If he has anything left in that bat," Russell said, "we're going to find out in the pennant stretch."
Others called up: catcher Henry Blanco, infielders Wilton Guerrero, Paul Konerko--MVP of the Pacific Coast League--and Adam Riggs, outfielders Eric Anthony and Wayne Kirby, and pitchers Dennis Reyes and Mike Harkey.
Infielder Tripp Cromer, out since July 28 because of a right elbow sprain and not expected to return this season, was moved from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.
Pitcher Alvin Brown was designated for assignment and, as expected, infielder Chad Fonville was sent to the Chicago White Sox to complete the trade for Darren Lewis.
Continuing a season-long tribute to Jackie Robinson, the Rangers retired Robinson's No. 42 during a pregame ceremony. Former Dodger pitcher Joe Black, a teammate of Robinson's in Brooklyn, participated in the ceremony.
"I've done a lot of these this year, but I never get tired of them," said Black, the National League rookie of the year in 1952. "If it hadn't been for Jackie, I probably would have had to work in a factory."
DODGERS' ISMAEL VALDES (9-10, 2.67 ERA) vs. RANGERS' BOBBY WITT (11-9, 4.43 ERA)
Site--The Ballpark, Arlington, Texas, 5:30 PDT.
Radio--KABC (790), KWKW (1330)
* Update--Valdes takes his second shot at trying to even his record. He pitched well enough to reach .500 in his last start Friday, going seven innings and giving up two runs on three hits against Oakland in a game the Dodgers won, 5-4, in 10 innings. Valdes has been pitching well lately--and the timing suits the Dodgers just fine. Valdes had won three in a row before the no-decision Friday. In his last 10 starts, Valdes is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA. His overall ERA is the fourth best in the National League. Valdes defeated Witt, 3-2, when the teams played June 30 at Dodger Stadium.