Burrell is beginning to Heat Up!


Charles Riedel / AP

Sometimes the National and local media can do some of the weirdest and funniest things in print without them even realizing it at the moment.  We all know about the typos that can make someone else’s life a living hell for a while until they issue a retraction/correction to hopefully make the issue go away, or at least lessing the glares and stares. But then there are times like after Friday nights Rays come from behind win over the Kansas City Royals that might just set the tone for the squad during the second half of the Rays 2009 season.

About 2 am this morning I wandered online to check out to see how my MLBloggers Fantasy team did during the first full night of games since the All Star break (I am leading division 1). I then decided to go to www.raysbaseball.com and check out the game’s headlines. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe some journalistic man crush love towards Rays Designated Hitter Pat Burrell, who went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI and a run scored in the Rays victory. Maybe I was hoping for a glint of respect thrown Burrell’s way because his home run started the run back towards the victory.

But instead I was greeted with a headline that read, “Longoria’s homer caps Rays’ comeback”. Maybe I was hoping that the webheads were about to do what I was considering in my own mind, that Burrell needed a media “hug”. I must have been dreaming to think that Burrell might get some much needed attention after his early season struggles with his neck injury and some very weak hitting in the first half. Maybe I was hoping they might show some props towards the guy. We, the fans always knew his bat would go on a streak at some moment this season.

Well, honestly, I am not the biggest Burrell fan, but I loved his initial signing by the team. It was a positive upgrade to the position, and the sky was the limit on that day.  I enjoyed the fact we were getting someone who had more speed than  ex-Ray Cliff Floyd on the bases. And I was enjoying the fact we got someone who did not need to swing for the fences like  current M’s HR stud Russell Branyan, who had only a few more hits than homers when he was the Rays DH. I guess what I was expecting was a Rays rendition of former M’s great Edgar Martinez.
 

But I think after the way 2008 went for us, someone like Burrell coming to the Rays was a blessing, not a curse. If I had faith in former Rays players Randal Simon and Vinnie Castilla as hitters, Burrell could rest comfortably I was not going to jeer him either. I understand that coming from playing every day in leftfield to just sitting on the bench and hitting 4 times a day is an huge mental and physical adjustment in your mind as well as your body. I get that part, and maybe that is why some great hitter make lousy DH’s.

I get the fact he was coming to the American League and would need a bit of time to adjust and scout some of the league’s best before he hit his stride again. But his injury time could have been spent studying  pitcher’s video provided by Rays video honcho Chris “Chico” Fernandez.  And he might have done just that, but are not privy to that information. Heck, he could have bought a subscription to MLB.TV and watch any game in the AL or NL this season at any time. He could have done home study on his big screen of any AL pitcher while he was rehabbing his neck situation. It was time for him to begin to piece it all together.


Brian Blanco / AP

And finally the moment came during the Rays last home stand . It began to seem like he was transforming himself at the plate. It seemed that all  of the sweaty work in the cages and behind the scenes were about to come to maturity and we could again cheer Burrell without any doubts. Hey, the guy was beginning to hit solid long ball out and  you could hear the different sound in the bat when he struck the ball now with renewed authority. He was beginning to look like that same guy that played in leftfield in Philly for so long.

He looked at home in the batter’s box again. During the Rays last home stand, Burrell went a combined 7 for 23 with a homer and  5 RBI. But  what came to prove he was waking up at the plate was the fact he added 5 doubles during those six games to showcase that the power was coming back in his swing. Pat Burrell was beginning to fulfill the DH role with attitude and power, just like the Rays envisioned when they signed him during the offseason.

Burrell might not have shown great numbers over the span of the 27 games since his return to the Rays line-up. And he might only be hitting .207 since his return, but  his bat has been on fire lately. During this 27-game stint he has hit 3 HR, 11 RBI  and walked 15 times before Friday night’s game. He is seeing the ball better, and his rising batting average is showing it. But the real sure fire statistic that his hitting is starting to bubble is the pure fact he hit two doubles in two of the three games against Oakland right before the All Star break.

What was so remarkable about that feat is it was his first multi-hit games since the April 13th Home Opener against the New York Yankees. Add that to the fact he hit only his fourth career walk-off homer against Toronto’s Brandon League on July 7th, which also was his first Rays walk-off hit this season, and you see a hitter finally hitting his groove. The power is coming back into his game. Last night’s home run got overshadowed by the late inning 2-run blast by Longoria, but it was Burrell’s shot that made the run for the victory possible.


Brian Blanco / AP

Without his homer, the Rays were not within striking distance of the Royals in that contest, but that was mentioned a few paragraphs down in the story online. You see, Longoria and Burrell each went 2-5 last night with a key HR in the win. Who do you think the media thinks he more of an attention draw right now….Burrell or Longoria? Maybe it is good that he is giving him the low profile treatment. Maybe this is just the thing to force him out of his hitting comfort zone and make him take some chances at the plate that will propel his  bat, his batting average and the Rays skywards.

For the team to have a solid c
hance at defending their title, Burrell has to stay hot and produce like he has for the last two weeks. We all know about his past exploits. How Burrell has averaged 31 HR, 99 RBI and 105 walks in the last four seasons. We get the idea that great things can come from his bat.  But this is the time for him to show the Rays fans why he was brought here.  I am again happy to add the middle name “the Bat” to Burrell’s name. He is getting hot at the right time to not only salvage his season, but to be a key component to the Rays charge to the postseason. 

Pat “the Bat”. That has a nice ring to it. I know we have to thank the Phillies fans for that moniker, but it is fitting right now for him. He might have only gone 2 for 5 last night, but in retrospect, that makes him hitting .400 since the All Star break. And those kind of numbers will not only help the Rays fans breathe easier, but also give Burrell some room to feel comfortable at the plate.
 

16 Comments

Good luck to “Pat the Bat”. Injuries and getting adjusted to the AL can be tough for anyone. I hope Burrell is successful; I’m sure this time must be frustrating to him.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia,
Hopefully Pat did not take it out on Elvis, his huge bulldog.
If he did, he might find a big smelly pile of dodo in his favorite cleats.
I am excited if he in deed finding his stride right now
It will come at the perfect time to help the team.
I guess we will know by the next home stand.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

If Burrell really heats up, the Rays are going to be going places… good places.
-Dillon
http://dillonm.mlblogs.com

Dillon,
Right now it is the top of the 3rd Inning and B J Upton is 2 for 2 so far.
He got hot first, now if Burrell and Dioner Navarro can click it up a notch or two, it will be a wild, wild time in the AL East.
I am just a passenger on the ride, but it is going to be fun until October 3rd..

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

That was another nail bitter. Man, that’s two nights in a row that they can back in the late innings. And the sheer fact the Kaz was keeping them at bay was great! I hope his arm will be ok in the next couple of days. They said it wasn’t serious. I hope not. He was doing so well! I hope he does it again next game, and the next, and the next… :)
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
By what I heard from someone with the team in KC, Kazmir felt it tighten up during the top of the inning and did not know how bad it was until he threw his first warm-up toss.
If you see the tape, he motioned to trainer Paul Harker first, then Maddon and him came out. While they were coming out he threw two light tosses to catcher Michel Hernandez to keep the umpire off of him for a bit.
He will be fine, he went straight to the training room and they checked it out. Just some tenderness and slight tendon inflammation.
He will be fine.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff – Great to hear that he’ll be fine. Thanks for the reassurance, I appreciate it!
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
I have to admit, Kazmir might be getting more in tune with his body finally and not trying to pitch through cramps,slight pulls and weird mechanics.
We might see a small change in the way he taks on his pitching duties because he might have finally figured his body’s warning system out.
And that is good and bad.
Good, because he could save himself from injury, bad because he could “get into his head” on the mound.
But the effort to understand the tell tale pains and aches is a great start.
That means he is ready to think about other things beside his pitches on the mound, which is always a good thing.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Pat the Bat heating up? Good news for your guys. Bad news for mine! But you’re right about changing leagues. There has to be an adjustment period, so I’m not surprised if that’s been the case with Burrell. Still, he looks plenty scary to me at the plate.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
The D H spot for the Rays the last 4 years has been hit or miss.
There have not been a level of consistent hitting or base running to support the hitter even being considered over the fifth spot.
But Burrell is showing some good at bats, so it is just around the corner.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I guess you could kind of compare Pat Burrell to Rodney Dangerfield in the way that he can’t get no respect. He was very well respected in the National League, even feared as a hitter. It’s good to see he’s coming around for the Rays. I may be a Yankee fan but I like the Rays’ potential for the coming years. Hopefully Burrell keeps it up!

– Lisa

good to see Burrell hitting the ball hard again. and you’re right on about Russell Branyan. Pat Burrell doesn’t need to try and hit home runs to hit them, and that’s the sign of a real power bat. He can go up there just looking for a ball to drive and his bat speed and swing do the rest. I can definitely see Pat getting on a tear and leading the Rays to another playoff birth. You guys have some great players down there and there’s no reason why you can’t beat out the Red Sox and Yankees, you have my support, like always. Pirates first, Rays second.

http://eatsleepmlb.mlblogs.com

Lisa,
I never really saw Burrell in that mode of “No Respect” because of his time at Philly and being picked by them as a first rounder.
But it does seem that the AL pitchers right now are no fearing him, and you could push that moniker on him without a problem.
Hopefully on the rest of this road trip he can command some respect and make people in the AL fear a Rays DH again like they did Jose Canseco.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Johnnnnn,
I liked the Pirates to do some great magic at the beginning of the season, but i also did not know they were going to go with new people in the out field even before the Trade deadline.
I still like their chances of hitting at least .500 and ruin the dreaded dark cloud chatter that seems to have been hanging over the team for decades.
Burrell is getting a huge amount of doubles the last week or so, and that is what the Rays need right now. Not a big bomber, but someone who can get the needed runs across the plate.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

You want to re-think this ? Check his last Burrell’s at bats. I hope that wasn’t “heating up”. 6 K’s and a DP if I counted right. But I’m not used to counting that many K’s for a batter, it’s usually a pitcher around the 7th inning and I’m hoping for free pizza.

Hmm,
Let see the time line on this blog.
It was written on July 18th and Burrell was 5 for 12 the previous three games before the blog posted.
I do agree that on July 19th he went 0-4 with 4 K’s.
That is a fact, but when the blog posted he was looking like he was heating up.
That is why bloggers are like TV weathermen. We can see a stoem coming or a heat wave, but you can not 100 percent predict anything, even baseball.
At the time Burrell was starting to look golden, but he again tarnished it all with a few bad nights.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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