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Murphy begins year with clean slate, new focus

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians outfielder David Murphy has welcomed a change of scenery with open arms, given the kind of season he endured with the Rangers a year ago. The veteran also signed with Cleveland over the winter because of the team's position as a contender in the American League.

When Murphy looks around the Tribe's clubhouse, he is actually reminded of one of his former teams in Texas.

"The 2009 Rangers were in a position where they were starting to trend in the right direction," Murphy said. "I feel like that's what this organization did last year. They stepped out. They almost won the division and made the Wild Card game.

"They got a short taste of the postseason and I think there's a bunch of guys in here that believe now and are ready to take that next step."

This is when it is worth a reminder that the Rangers went to the World Series in both 2010 and 2011.

Murphy, 32, spent parts of seven seasons with Texas, hitting .275 with a .777 OPS and providing solid defense in the outfield. Last year, however, the left-handed hitter slumped to the tune of a .220 average (.656 OPS) in 142 games. It was a drastic drop-off from 2012, when Murphy hit .304 (.859 OPS) with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs in 147 games.

Over the offseason, Murphy hit the free-agent market and found a two-year, $12 million deal with the Indians.

"I think we're definitely buying in on the bounce-back," Indians manager Terry Francona said,

Murphy will take over as the primary right fielder for Cleveland, which traded Drew Stubbs (last year's right fielder) to the Rockies in December. One possibility is that the Indians will use Murphy mostly against right-handed pitching, while working in righty-swinging Ryan Raburn against lefties.

No matter how the playing time shakes out specifically, Murphy is looking forward to the fresh start.

"I'm really excited," Murphy said. "When the season ended last year, I remember talking to my wife, and obviously you never want the season to end, but that was the one positive. The slate is wiped clean. I get to focus on a new year and getting back to the old me."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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