Murton happy to be back with #Cubs

After six years playing baseball in Japan, it was time to come back to the U.S., Matt Murton said. The red-headed outfielder is back with the Cubs, signing a Minor League contract.

“It’s an opportunity,” Murton said Friday. “[The Cubs] didn’t guarantee anything.”

The Cubs acquired Murton, 34, from the Red Sox in July 2004 as part of the Nomar Garciaparra trade. He batted .294 with 28 home runs and 104 RBIs in 308 games. He spent one season with the Rockies in 2009, then joined the Hanshin Tigers in Japan in 2010 and batted .310 with 79 home runs over six seasons there.

“We went over there [to Japan] kicking and screaming a little bit,” Murton said. “When we got there we figured, we’d do a year or two and see what happens, and [stayed for] six years.”

Murton said most foreign players, or gaijin, spend four, five years with one team in Japan and then start to bounce around.

“I was very fortunate to be the longest tenured position player in [Hanshin’s] history,” he said. “It was time for me to move. It came down to did I want to do this in another city and start over in Japan. I’ve always had the intention to come back here.”

He can speak a little Japanese, and carry a basic conversation. Murton now has four young children and was looking forward to being around family more in the U.S.

“I’m looking forward to being back here and be one of the guys and just enjoy the sport,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat

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