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posted: 8/21/2013 9:57 PM

Murphy powers his way into Cubs' picture

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It might be hard moving Donnie Murphy out of the lineup with the way he's hitting for the Cubs.

The 30-year-old journeyman came up from Class AAA Iowa on Aug. 3. He entered Wednesday night's game against the Washington Nationals with 7 home runs since Aug. 6.

That led the National League and was tied for second with the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano for second in the major leagues behind Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who had 8 homers in that span.

Murphy also had 4 doubles to give him an .891 slugging percentage since Aug. 6 to lead the major leagues. Murphy's 7 homers came in 46 at-bats, or 1 home run every 6.6 at-bats. Coming into this season, Murphy had hit 18 big-league home runs in 579 at-bats, or 1 every 32.2 at-bats.

"It's been one big bright spot the last couple weeks since he's been here," manager Dale Sveum said. "That's goes unsaid. That's how we score runs. He's been a big part of winning some games and giving us leads and getting us back into games with home runs. It's huge to put a guy in the lineup that really was here to be a utility player.

"He just played himself right into playing every day. It's good for him at this stage of his career. He's had a lot of injuries. To have that kind of power and do the things defensively. He's really solidified a piece of our lineup."

The Cubs also say that, according to STATS, Inc., Murphy is the first Cubs player since at least 1921 to hit 7 homers in his first 14 games with the team.

Murphy has filled in for Luis Valbuena, who is on the disabled list with a right-oblique strain. Valbuena has been taking grounders during early work this week, and he likely will head out soon on a minor-league rehab stint.

Waiting his turn:

The Cubs called up infielder Logan Watkins from Iowa on Aug. 4, when Luis Valbuena went on the DL. Donnie Murphy has taken over at third base, and the Cubs also have Cody Ransom to play the infield.

So Watkins will find it hard to find playing time. Dale Sveum has no plans to replace Darwin Barney at second base, Watkins' main position.

"It's going to be hard to get him any at-bats to see anything," Sveum said of evaluating Watkins. "Barney's our everyday second baseman. He's going to get a few days off the rest of the season. It's one of those things right now where we don't have really have any place to play him."

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