Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell says neck injury less severe than first time, expects short absence

ST. PETERSBURG — DH Pat Burrell's latest problem sounds like no more than a pain in the neck.

Unlike earlier this season when a stiff neck landed him on the DL for more than a month, Burrell expects to miss only a couple of days and could be available to pinch hit today and return to the lineup Tuesday.

"Having been through this the first time, I don't want it to get to where I have to miss any length of time," he said. "I could probably have played; I just don't want to make it worse. And I think with a little bit of rest it will get better. … Bottom line is I don't think it's going to be something serious, and I'll just try to be careful."

Manager Joe Maddon said it was definitely not as severe as the first time.

"It wasn't awful, not an awful thing like last time, where he had all kinds of things locked up and felt it through his arm and down through his hands," he said.

Burrell felt the discomfort after taking a swing in Friday's game, and Maddon said it was obvious something was amiss.

"I noticed when I was talking to him he had a hard time turning to look at me," Maddon said.

Because of Burrell's status, the Rays called up INF Reid Brignac from Triple A to have a third healthy body on the bench and held off activating RHP Chad Bradford from the DL. If Burrell is ready Tuesday, Brignac is likely to go back.

Draft update: The Rays confirmed the signings of four high draft picks: No. 3 OF Todd Glaesmann, No. 4 C Luke Bailey, No. 5 1B Jeff Malm and No. 9 LHP Kevin James.

According to Baseball America, they spent freely in doing so, giving Glaesmann $930,000, which would be the third-highest bonus in the third round and more than three times the MLB recommendation for that slot (108th overall).

They also paid over-slot bonuses, according to BA, to Bailey ($750,000, second highest in his round and nearly four times the recommendation) and James ($625,000, highest in his round) and are thought to have done so with Malm, who had a college offer from USC.

"I've always wanted to go to USC, but, for me, pro ball has always been my dream, and I knew it's what I wanted to do with my life," Malm said. "And I felt like I was ready to take the next step."

All will join the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte.

Facing a midnight Monday deadline, they don't appear to have made much progress with No. 1 pick INF/OF LeVon Washington and are waiting for a decision from No. 2 pick SS Kenny Diekroeger on whether to sign or attend Stanford.

The name is Hughes: The player to be named in the deal with Baltimore for Gregg Zaun turned out to be 1B Rhyne Hughes.

The 2004 eighth-round pick moved from Double-A Montgomery to Durham and hit a combined .282 with 22 homers, 72 RBIs and 33 doubles. The Rays also got cash from the Orioles, about the amount of Hughes' $275,000 signing bonus. In acquiring Zaun, the Rays assumed about $500,000 in salary, plus a $500,000 buyout or $2 million option for 2010.

Rehab report: 2B Akinori Iwamura (left knee) was 2-for-4 as Durham's DH on Saturday. He's scheduled to take today off. … OF Fernando Perez (left wrist) took a break from his rehab assignment at Class A Charlotte due to a neck tweak.

Miscellany: CF B.J. Upton and Burrell will sign autographs from noon to 12:30 along the first-base line. … The Rays haven't lost a home series to the Jays since April 2007. … Russ Springer and Randy Choate made their week-in-the-making number swap, Springer getting 36 and Choate switching to 37.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell says neck injury less severe than first time, expects short absence 08/15/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 9:22am]

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