One of the brightest spots in what has turned into yet another bleak Cubs season isn't the blue chip first baseman or the erratic $60 million shortstop who tend to get all the headlines.
Rather, it's 30-year-old journeyman who has spent more time on the road than Jack Kerouac himself.
"He's been one big bright spot the last couple weeks since he's been here," said manager Dale Sveum.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Donnie Murphy.
"Especially just traveling all over the place and hopefully just these last two months, hard work has paid off," the soft-spoken California native said.
The past two months suggest it has.
Since being called up from the minor leagues Aug. 3, Murphy has written a tale much taller than his 5-foot-10 frame, going from organizational afterthought to one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup. In his first 14 games as a Cub, Murphy hit seven home runs despite hitting only 12 in 89 games at Triple-A.
"Sometimes it amazes me," he said. "Everybody wants to get off to a good start, especially with a new team."
Count his manager among his biggest fans.
"To have that kind of power and do those things defensively, he's really solidified as a piece of our lineup," Sveum said. "It's huge to put a guy in the lineup that really was here to be a utility player and then he just played himself right into playing every day."
Murphy's road to Wrigley Field took more twists and turns than your average roller coaster.
Murphy has played for 14 teams in 12 seasons since being drafted in the fifth round by Kansas City in 2002, from Burlington to Miami, Spokane to Wilmington.
"I think it takes more of a toll on my wife and kid more than it does me," he said. "I get told where to go and I just go. My wife, she has to pick everything up and go. It's not as stressful on me as it is on my family but it's part of the game."
Along the way, he swears he never thought about doing something else.
"I'm confident enough where I know I can still help somebody out," he said. "Hopefully I don't have to think about that anytime soon because I think that's the last thing people want to think about."
You'd think that after playing for all those teams, Murphy's closet would be overflowing with all kinds of T-shirts and other gear.
Not so fast.
"Once I leave an organization, those are hand-me-downs after that," he said. "I don't really have a need for it anymore cause obviously I'm not with that team anymore. I don't really hold on to those things for sentimental value."
If he keeps up his current pace, he won't have to give any more hand-me-downs away anytime soon.
Murphy said he's hoping to capitalize on the momentum he's generated down the stretch to convince Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer that he's worthy of a roster spot in 2014.
"I love [Chicago]," he said. "This is really the first extended time I've had here outside of a road trip before. We're staying downtown and we're just taking it all in, we're having a blast so far. Hopefully this is my new home."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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