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2015 Spring-Training Countdown, Day 19: Matt Murton

Here's a popular former Cub who wore number 19.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
In going through the all-time list of Cub number 19s, we don't see very many memorable names:
Harry Taylor (1932), Jakie May (1932), Charlie Root (1933), Bill Lee (1934), Red Corriden (coach, 1937-40), Barney Olsen (1941), Lou Novikoff (1941-42), Lon Warneke (1942), Doyle Lade (1946), Emmett O'Neil (1946), Hal Jeffcoat (1948-49, 1954-55), Dick Manville (1952), Joe Hatten (1952), Pepper Martin (coach, 1956), Bill Henry (1958), Moe Thacker (1958), Paul Smith (1958), Sammy Drake (1960-61), Daryl Robertson (1962), Elder White (1962), Billy Ott (1962), Jimmy Stewart (1963-67), Lee Elia (1968), Bill Heath (1969), Charley Smith (1969), Phil Gagliano (1970), Danny Breeden (1971), Pat Bourque (1971-73), Gonzalo Marquez (1973-74), Manny Trillo (1975-78, 1986-88), Pat Tabler (1981-82), Dave Owen (1983-85), Curtis Wilkerson (1989-90), Hector Villanueva (1991-92), Kevin Roberson 1993-95), Brooks Kieschnick (1996-97), Jason Hardtke (1998), Curtis Goodwin (1999), Jose Molina (1999), Gary Matthews Jr. (2001), Hee Seop Choi (2002-03), Damian Jackson (2004), Brendan Harris (2004), Mike DiFelice (2004), Enrique Wilson (2005), Matt Murton (2005-08), Tyler Colvin (2009), Bobby Scales (2010), Rodrigo Lopez (2012), Nate Schierholtz (2013-14), Dan Straily (2014)

Truth be told, I have better stories I could have told here about Manny Trillo or Hector Villanueva or Hee Seop Choi, but I want to make sure I have a photo of the player I'm talking about with his uniform number visible, because that's kind of the point of doing a number countdown. With the photos I have access to and the rights to use, the only one I could find was Matt Murton.

Murton came to the Cubs from the Red Sox along with Nomar Garciaparra in that four-team deal and after Nomar departed via free agency, it looked like Murton might actually provide the Cubs with decent value from that trade. He hit .297/.365/.444 with 13 home runs as the Cubs' primary left fielder in 2006, a 1.8 bWAR season. Even in 2007, relegated to platoon duty, he hit .281/.352/.438 with eight homers in 235 at-bats.

But he got off to a terrible start in 2008 and was sent to the Athletics as part of the Rich Harden trade. He didn't play much, or well, for the A's and they traded him to the Rockies for no one you've ever heard of.

Murton's best career move was to sign to play in Japan for the 2010 season. That year with the Hanshin Tigers, he hit .349/.395/.499 and set a NPB record for hits in a season (214), breaking the mark that had been set by Ichiro Suzuki in 1994. In five years in Japan he's hit .317/.359/.450 with 68 home runs and his team was in the Japan Series in 2014.

I always enjoyed watching Murton play and even now, at age 33, he could probably still play in the major leagues in a platoon role -- he hit .304/.372/.480 against lefthanders in his big-league career.