Clark Murphy savored his big Opening Night for the Eugene Emeralds on Friday. But he knows there are more important things than winning a baseball game.
The Padres prospect went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, a walk-off double and five RBIs as the Emeralds kicked off Northwest League play with a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Yakima Bears.
Murphy homered in the first and sixth innings and singled in the fourth. He came up again in the 10th with two on and two outs, delivering a double that scored Ronnie Richardson with the winning run.
"I told myself to stay within myself and not try to do too much," Murphy said. "Two strikes, I got a pitch on the outside corner and went with it for a double. I used the whole field."
The 22-year-old first baseman began the season with Class A Fort Wayne, where he batted .164 with a homer and four RBIs in 17 games. It's the first year in the Padres organization for the San Diego-area native, who was drafted by Texas in 2008 and spent four seasons with the Rangers.
Murphy played in only 19 games last year between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Class A Hickory. In April 2011, his then-19-year-old brother, Conrad, was severely injured in a car accident, and he returned to California to be with his family.
Released by Texas in March, Murphy got a call from Padres Minor League field coordinator Randy Johnson, who attended Valley Center, the same high school as his brother. He worked out for the Padres in Lake Elsinore, Calif., signed a contract and was sent to extended spring training in Arizona.
"I'm extremely thankful for the Padres organization and the way they treated me," Murphy said. "I live an hour from San Diego, I still live in San Diego County. It's a dream to be playing for your hometown team."
In 2010, his last extended time on the diamond, Murphy hit .319 with a .440 on-base percentage and .410 slugging percentage in 46 games with short-season Spokane. He's back in the Northwest League after making the jump from Fallbrook High School to the pros.
More importantly, his brother continues to show signs of improvement as he recovers from a brain injury.
"He still has a long road ahead, but he works harder than anyone I know," Murphy said. "He's an inspiration, as far as not giving up when the odds are against you.
"I see glimpses of his old self more and more, and it's great to see that. He's a warrior. He's the toughest [guy] I know."
Knowing what Conrad has been through -- and what he continues to go through -- helps put nights like Friday in perspective.
"It's baseball," Murphy said. "You have your ups and downs, and it's great that this was a good night for me and the hard work is paying off. I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."