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Phillies fans give warm reception to new Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell

Pat Burrell, right, shares a laugh with former Phillies teammates Greg Dobbs, left, and Ryan Howard before the Rays’ spring game in Clearwater, where Burrell got a warm reception.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Pat Burrell, right, shares a laugh with former Phillies teammates Greg Dobbs, left, and Ryan Howard before the Rays’ spring game in Clearwater, where Burrell got a warm reception.

By JOE SMITH

Times Staff Writer

CLEARWATER — Pat Burrell said that with Philadelphia fans, you've "got to be prepared for anything."

But even Burrell, who spent his first nine seasons with the Phillies before signing with the Rays in January, had to be pleasantly surprised with how warm a welcome he received Saturday at Bright House Field.

Burrell, 32, was surrounded by red-clad autograph seekers when he popped out of the visitor's dugout during pregame and received a large ovation before his first at-bat.

Burrell, who rewarded the fans with a double in the World Series rematch — a 12-5 Phillies win in front of a stadium-record crowd of 10,270 — said the whole experience has allowed him to come "full circle."

"The response I got, I thought was very special," he said. "Obviously, it's something I won't forget."

Burrell hit a key double in Game 5 of the World Series against the Rays that led to the winning run, and he ended up leading the Phillies in their championship parade. Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Tampa Bay in the offseason, said it was a different feeling seeing former teammates such as Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard from the visitor's dugout. But he felt the love from fans, signing Phillies championship gear and hearing remarks such as "We miss you." Some yelled, "Let's go, Pat!" during his first at-bat. "They definitely made me feel appreciated," he said.

Burrell will see if it happens again during two exhibition games in Philadelphia (April 3-4). He also plans to attend the ring ceremony April 8 at Citizens Bank Park. Since the Phillies have a day game, he can fly back to Boston to meet the Rays that night for the 7:10 start.

LESSON LEARNED: RHP Mitch Talbot, a candidate for the fifth rotation spot, gave up five runs, including three homers, in the first but settled down to throw two scoreless innings after. Manager Joe Maddon said Talbot "pitched better than the numbers looked," adding that after not making an adjustment in the first, he bounced back. "The second and third innings, he kind of settles in and starts utilizing all his pitches," Maddon said. "And he's a different cat."

GAME DETAILS: INF Elliot Johnson hit a two-run homer in the ninth and Ray Sadler a solo shot in the second. Despite the score, Maddon was pleased with the baserunning, effort and defense (other than the two errors in the eighth, resulting in four unearned runs). Said Maddon: "All the little concepts we put out there in the beginning of camp, they are absolutely sticking with them."

BID ADIEU: LHP J.P. Howell gave up a run (a homer) in his last appearance before joining Team USA today for the World Baseball Classic; 2B Willy Aybar joins the Dominican Republic team. Howell said he's slated to pitch in Wednesday's exhibition against the Jays and has received advice from veteran RHP Dan Wheeler, who pitched in the 2006 WBC, on handling everything.

MISCELLANY: Maddon attended the Clearwater for Youth Dinner after the game to receive the organization's Champion for Youth Award.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Phillies fans give warm reception to new Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell 02/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 8:15pm]
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