The Bat Is Back
It wasn’t always that way.
We know Burrell, who has resurrected his career since he joined the San Francisco Giants in June, helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. But he also helped the Phillies in the standings Aug. 6, when he hit a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning of a 3-2 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.
Burrell has maintained close ties with the Phillies. In fact, shortly after Burrell’s sacrifice fly won the game in Atlanta, Phillies director of team travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger heard his phone buzzing next to his bed. Coppenbarger woke up and checked his phone to find a text message from Burrell:
Coppenbarger handed out Burrell’s No. 5 to Mike Sweeney when he recently joined the team. It was the first time anybody had the number since Burrell left. Coppenbarger notified Burrell, who understood the situation. Sweeney has been in the big leagues since 1995. He had worn No. 29 most of his career, but Raul Ibanez obviously wears that here. Sweeney wore No. 5 in Oakland and Seattle, so that was the next option.
Burrell is hitting .285 with 10 homers, 30 RBIs and a .905 OPS with the Giants. I’ve gotten plenty of questions from readers asking if the Phillies made a mistake not picking up Burrell when the Rays released him in May. I still don’t think they should have, and here is why: Burrell would not have played regularly with the Phillies like he is with the Giants. And if his disastrous season-plus with the Rays taught us anything, it is Burrell is not an effective hitter if he is not playing in the field. (He has acknowledged as much, including a story in today’s Inquirer.)
Here are Burrell’s career splits in the outfield vs. his career splits as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter:
Playing in the outfield: .260/.370/.490
Designated hitter: .209/.306/.348