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Pat Burrell returns to Tampa Bay Rays with his Phillies ring

Ryan Howard, left, and Phillie-turned-Ray Pat Burrell examine their World Series rings before the Phillies’ Wednesday afternoon game. Burrell then hopped a jet for Boston.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Ryan Howard, left, and Phillie-turned-Ray Pat Burrell examine their World Series rings before the Phillies’ Wednesday afternoon game. Burrell then hopped a jet for Boston.

BOSTON — Pat Burrell had a pretty good doubleheader.

He flew to Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, received his World Series championship ring with his former Phillies teammates in an emotional on-field ceremony, then took a private jet back to Boston in time to play in his new team's first win of the season.

"For me, and I think for everybody on that team, it was a pretty special thing to be a part of,'' Burrell said. "I'm fortunate I got an opportunity to be there because it very easily could have not worked out.''

As during last weekend's exhibitions, Burrell got a roaring ovation from Philly fans. He got hugs from team officials. And, of course, he got the ring. And it was a big one, made of 14-karat white gold and including 103 diamonds (for each of their wins) totaling nearly 4 carats.

Burrell, who admitted he was a tad uncomfortable talking about it, especially since the Phillies beat the Rays, said he probably won't wear it much.

"I don't know where you could wear that to where you could somewhat fit in,'' he said.

Burrell will get today off, with Willy Aybar the DH.

ROCCO THE RED SOX: In a way, Rocco Baldelli said, it worked out just right. The native New Englander made his major-league debut for the Rays in 2003 against the Red Sox, then Wednesday he made his first appearance for the Red Sox against the Rays.

"So it's kind of cool more than anything else," Baldelli said. "It's fitting, I guess."

Baldelli, who signed with the Red Sox after the Rays allowed him to become a free agent, said he "felt good physically" after the game, which included a diving catch in rightfield. He struck out, flied out and singled off Scott Kazmir, who said it was "different, definitely different'' facing his longtime teammate. In a key spot with two on in the eighth, Baldelli struck out against J.P. Howell.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he will always be fond of Baldelli, who has battled a chronic fatigue disorder.

"Of course, it's easier to root for him when you're not playing against him," Maddon said. "He's a special person. … You're pulling for him as a person, and to undergo the maladies obviously makes you want to see him come back even more."

GOING TO THE MATT: RHP Matt Garza has been eager to pitch, and his first appearance today, Maddon said, could be the start of something.

"I believe he understands now how good he can be, and he wants to be that guy," he said. "He wants to be that dominant pitcher. He takes a lot of pride in a lot of the stuff he does. I know sometimes from a distance it doesn't appear that way, but this guy really studies the opposition well before he pitches. I just think he's maturing, he's understanding himself better, he's understanding his stuff better. If we channel this all in the right direction, this guy is going to be dominant over the course of the next couple years."

REHAB REPORT: CF B.J. Upton is scheduled to be in the starting lineup for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs inaugural game tonight, the first of three rehab appearances before his projected return to the Rays on Monday. Upton was 0-for-4 with a walk in a minor-league intrasquad game Wednesday, including a strikeout against RHP Jason Isringhausen.

MISCELLANY: C Shawn Riggans is scheduled for his first start today. … To clarify a report earlier this week, the Rays will not be offering valet parking at Tropicana Field this season. … Akinori Iwamura batted ninth for the first time and went 3-for-4 with three runs. … All four full-season minor-league affiliates open play tonight.

Pat Burrell returns to Tampa Bay Rays with his Phillies ring 04/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 9, 2009 6:44am]
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