John Murrian spent his professional baseball career filling every role the Detroit Tigers needed.
Whether it was moving up and down the minor league system depending on which team needed a veteran catcher or spending five seasons in Detroit as a bullpen catcher, Murrian was ready to accept any role.
This week, Murrian’s new role is the interim manager of the Erie SeaWolves.
“It was a bit of a surprise and not something I expected (Tuesday), but the guys know how to do their routines with me in charge,” said Murrian, who is the SeaWolves’ batting coach. “I don’t have to do anything different and hopefully we can get things done.”
The week got off to a rocky start as the SeaWolves suffered a rain-shortened 5-2 loss to Altoona on Tuesday at UPMC Park.
Murrian, 33, will replace manager Gabe Alvarez, who entered Minor League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocols, all week. The protocols last 10 days, which means Alvarez won’t be able to join the team until next week in Akron.
“Gabe had to get out of here quickly, so we didn’t have much chance to talk,” Murrian said. “We’ll talk more about it, and hopefully the transition will be smooth now and next week.”
Murrian is a familiar face to SeaWolves fans having played parts of three seasons in Erie. He was born in Knoxville, Tenn. and was drafted by the Tigers in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Winthrop. He reached Erie in 2010 and played 17 games before playing 42 games with the SeaWolves in 2011 and 20 games in 2012.
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Murrian had his ups and downs between Erie and Triple-A Toledo, but didn’t get a chance to play in Detroit. He ended up with the Tigers from 2014 to 2018 as a catcher in the bullpen before moving into coaching.
“It was a great experience for me because I got to see the game at the highest level for five years,” Murrian said. “I was able to learn a lot from very good managers and I learned a lot about the way they did things.”
In 2019, Murrian was the batting coach for the Gulf Coast League Tigers and the batting coach in West Michigan in 2020, but COVID-19 cost him that experience. He was named hitting coach at Lakeland last year before being promoted to Erie this year.
For next week, Murrian could get a glimpse of his future.
“It’s definitely a great learning experience for me,” Murrian said. “I’m here as a support for Gabe, and now I have to think and go through scenarios as fast as him. It will be a great experience.
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As for managing a team in the future?
“Honestly, I just want to help the organization in any way I can. If it happens, great, and if it doesn’t, then it is,” Murrian said. No worries one way or the other.”
Murrian’s first experience as a manager was cut short on Tuesday as rain arrived after six innings. rest of the game.
Altoona (10-12) scored three early on against Reese Olson, but he settled for four solid innings. The SeaWolves (12-10) cut the lead to 3-2 as Quincy Nieporte doubled in a run in the fourth inning and Andre Lipcius scored a single in another in the fifth. The Curve, however, added two points in the sixth on a brace from Tucupita Marcano to give themselves a three-point lead.
“I thought we started having better sticks later in the game and their starting pitcher had some really good stuff,” Murrian said. “It’s a shame we got cut short because I would have liked to see what we could have done in those last few rounds.”
Contact Tom Reisenweber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ETNreisenweber.