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Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell starting to get hot just as All-Star break arrives

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon has said that when DH Pat Burrell gets hot at the plate, he can stay that way for long stretches.

"That's his M.O.," Maddon said.

Burrell, 32, admits he has been feeling better the past couple of weeks and hopes that the better results from the recent home-stand — when he hit .304 with a homer, five doubles and five RBIs — are signs of things to come in the season's second half.

Burrell had two doubles Sunday, one of which knocked in two runs, giving him two games with multiple extra-base hits in the past three days after not having one since April 13.

"I had a year like this before where right at the break I started feeling pretty good and then, of course, we went to break," Burrell said.

"I feel good. Obviously there's lot of ground to make up here. But from two weeks ago, I've felt a lot better, and hopefully over the break you can somehow find a way to keep that feeling and have a good second half."

Burrell, the Rays' biggest offseason acquisition with a two-year, $16 million free agent deal, has struggled to find his way in the first half while having to adjust to a new position (DH) and a new league, and dealing with a neck strain that forced him to miss 29 games. He's hitting .232 with four homers and 28 RBIs.

Maddon has pointed to Burrell's track record — he averaged 31 homers and 99 RBIs the previous four seasons with the Phillies — and work ethic as reasons to believe the best is yet to come.

"Pat's looking better; much better at-bats," Maddon said. "I really believe he's on task, he's on track right now, and he's going to have a very good second half."

NAVI OKAY: C Dioner Navarro has been to the hospital enough times for freak injuries that he certainly didn't need Saturday's brief scare.

"It was weird, man," he said of getting hit in the mask with a foul tip.

Navarro said he feels fine after having tests, which showed no concussion or broken bones, just a bruise on the left side of his face. Navarro said that with the four-day All-Star break, he hopes to be ready to go when the second half starts Friday in Kansas City.

Navarro said he didn't remember much from getting hurt. Jack Cust's foul tip hit him in the mask, and he sat on the ground for several minutes while getting attended to by the training staff.

"I was feeling fine, feeling okay, I was like, 'Okay, give me some time, let me recoup,' " Navarro said. "And all of a sudden, I felt nauseous, I was dizzy."

Navarro said he still felt some pain and discomfort Sunday, but it could have been worse.

"Thank God we have the All-Star break," he said. "I got those three days to see what happens, we're gonna keep monitoring it and hopefully I'll be fine."

IN AND OUT: RHP Grant Balfour was placed on the bereavement list. He had to leave before the game to fly to Australia because of the death of his grandfather.

Maddon said Balfour should be back for Friday's game against the Royals. With Balfour out, the Rays had room to call up C John Jaso from Triple-A Durham, insurance in case they needed a backup catcher Sunday.

MINOR MATTERS: OF Justin Ruggiano had X-rays on his left hand, which was injured when he was hit by a pitch at Durham. He said the results were inconclusive, and he'll have to get more X-rays later this week if he doesn't feel better after the three-day All-Star break.

MISCELLANY: LF Carl Crawford was given the day off, almost. He pinch hit in the ninth and struck out. … The Rays lost their first home series since April 17-19 vs. the White Sox. … INF Ben Zobrist hit .455 (10-for-22) with a homer and six RBIs during the homestand.

Tampa Bay Rays DH Pat Burrell starting to get hot just as All-Star break arrives 07/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 13, 2009 9:18am]
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