Burrell returns to Philly as a Giant

 Posted by at 3:44 pm
Aug 172010

Pat Burrell leads the Phillies 2008 World Series parade

August 17 Philadelphia Inquirer

Pat Burrell might lead the majors in homecomings this season.

When the Giants open a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, it surely will rekindle memories for Burrell and Phillies fans, especially since the teams are virtually tied in the NL wild-card race.

“There was an electricity there that’s different,” Burrell said, likening it to having the atmosphere of a Dodgers-Giants game every night. “The ups and downs of emotions with the fans and the city, there’s no secret where you stand.”

For the last 21/2 months, Burrell, a Northern California native, has relished his homecoming with San Francisco. It has rekindled his career. “It’s just been an incredible deal for me,” Burrell said last week in the Giants’ clubhouse at AT&T Park. “I couldn’t have scripted it any better, as far as being from the Bay Area, having a chance to come back here . . . and getting the opportunity to play.”

Burrell is hitting .285 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in 56 games with the Giants and has been on a tear the last two weeks.

He hit two homers, including a grand slam, in an 8-7 win over the Cubs on Thursday. The night before, he hit the game-winning homer in the eighth inning in a 5-4 win. He had eight RBIs in the two wins. Before that, he delivered game-winning sacrifice flies at Atlanta (Aug. 6) and against the Cubs (Aug. 9).

On July 31, Burrell jolted a sellout crowd at the ballpark by McCovey Cove with arguably the Giants’ most dramatic at-bat of the season. Burrell turned on a 3-2 pitch from the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton and deposited it just over the left-field wall for a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning that gave San Francisco a 2-1 victory over L.A.

Whether Burrell would get another chance to play seemed in considerable doubt in mid-May. Tampa Bay designated him for assignment May 15. He was hitting .202 with two homers and 13 RBIs. In his final seven games with the Rays, he went 2 for 25 and did not drive in a run.

Burrell believes one reason he struggled with Tampa, where he signed a two-year, $16 million deal in 2008, was that he was used strictly as a designated hitter. (To replace Burrell, the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $31.5 million deal. After a fast start last year, Ibanez has struggled until recently and is hitting .264 with 11 homers and 58 RBIs.)

“The situation just didn’t set up right for me down there, and it’s unfortunate because it’s such a great team,” Burrell said of the Rays who are fighting it out with the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East.

“When I got let go, I looked at it kind of as an opportunity to get back on my feet and see if I could play again. I knew, deep down, I still could do it.””

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