Burrell feeling better; unsure on return
DH Pat Burrell, on the DL with a neck strain, said after taking batting practice Wednesday afternoon that he's completely healthy, but that he's still unsure when he'll rejoin the Rays.
Burrell said his timing is "not good" and still needs work, which makes it sound like the expected return Friday is still up in the air. Burrell, who went 1-for-9 with four strikeouts in two rehab games with Double-A Montgomery, will play for Charlotte Thursday and see where he's at from there.
"I've got to get some baseball skills back," Burrell said. "That's the frustrating part. You've got to be realistic too, being out for five weeks, there’s a part of it you have to get back. I think some of the things that, with (my neck) bothering me, there’s some bad habits that were developed and I have to get back to where I’m productive."
Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal as a free agent in the offseason, said the neck was an issue in his early-season performance, with the slugger hitting .250 with just 1 homer and 17 RBI in his first 30 games (including just five extra-base hits).
“It bothered me - I’ve dealt with this in the past, but it never got to the point where I didn’t feel like I could perform,” Burrell said. “It just got to the point where I wasn’t helping, it was on my mind constantly, and I had to deal with the problem. I don’t think there’s anything I could have done differently.
“I think it was an issue. There’s no excuses. I’m on the field, I’m playing. This is a game where you got to produce. Yesterday doesn’t count. I believe that. There’s no excuses for not peforming. I took the field. Certainly I’m a lot more eager to get out there feeling good.”
Burrell has hit at least 29 homers in each of his past four seasons with the Phillies, a production level he still feels he can bring to the Rays.
"And it’s there," he said. "Just gotta find it. Maybe it will show up tonight on my door. But it’s there. I still know I can compete at a high level. But being healthy is key."
- JOE SMITH