As second baseman Daniel Murphy prepared to make his Wrigley Field debut as a Cub on Thursday, it was brought to his attention that his anti-gay comments from three years ago appeared to cause some fans on social media to declare they will not root for the Cubs with him on the team the rest of the season.
“Oh, dear,” he said when asked if he had a message for those fans. “I would hope that you would root for the Cubs.”
Murphy, the three-time All-Star acquired from the Nationals in a surprise trade Tuesday, got a strong ovation Thursday night when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first to lead off against the Reds.
He was acquired to jump-start a slumping Cubs’ lineup and provide a proven left-handed bat for a final stretch filled with opposing right-handers.
But at least for one day at his new home ballpark, the comments made in 2015 as member of the New York Mets drew more attention and scrutiny than his .413 career success at Wrigley Field.
Citing his personal faith, Murphy said at the time: “I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy Bean is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. … We [as Christians] love the people. We disagree with the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me.”
The openly gay Bean, a former player and currently Major League Baseball’s ambassador for inclusion, was the focus of that conversation after having spoken to the Mets.
Asked if his views had changed or if he wanted to clarify the comments, Murphy said Thursday: “What I would say is that I’ve been able to really foster what I would call a really positive relationship with Billy Bean since that time. I’m really excited to continue to cultivate that relationship we’ve built. Billy, [through] his job … [plays] a vital role so that everyone feels included, not only in our industry of baseball but in all aspects of life.
“I hope that anyone who comes to Wrigley Field would feel welcome,” added Murphy, who joins the only MLB team known to have an openly gay owner (Laura Ricketts). “That’s my hope. That’s the hope of Major League baseball. And in speaking with Billy Bean, [through] the relationship we’ve been able to forge, that’s what he’s trying to do. That’s what we’re trying to do as an industry. We want people to feel welcome, whatever walk of life that might be.”
Murphy, 33, has been known as a popular teammate during his career.
And Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer that after reaching out to Bean to seek input before making the trade, the Cubs were satisfied enough with the feedback to make the deal.
“He was really positive and thought the organization could really benefit from [Murphy’s] presence,” Hoyer said.
Notes: Tyler Chatwood, the recently demoted starter with an MLB-leading 93 walks, was put on the 10-day DL Thursday because of left hip inflammation that the team said flared up during his ineffective spot start Saturday in Pittsburgh. …Hard-throwing right-hander Dillon Maples was recalled from AAA Iowa to take Chatwood’s spot in the bullpen. …The Cubs will need to make another move before Fridays’ game to clear room on the roster for right-hander Alec Mills to join the team from Iowa and start Friday against the Reds. Mills pitched two perfect innings for the Cubs last month in his only big-league outing of the season. He’s 5-12 with a 4.84 ERA in 23 AAA starts.