Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Burrell to play some RF this spring
Posted Mar 6, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated Mar 6, 2010 at 01:27 PM
By ROGER MOONEY
PORT CHARLOTTE Rays manager Joe Maddon asked the Phillies for permission to use the designated hitter Sunday when the two teams meet in Clearwater, but the request is not to get more at-bats for designated hitter Pat Burrell.
Kelly Shoppach will serve as the DH for the purpose of getting the extra swings.
Burrell will start in right field.
“We talked about it with him at his meeting,” Maddon said before today’s game with the Red Sox. “He would like to be able to do that. I want to get him out there during camp, get him more comfortable with it. We’ll see. I’m not sure yet, except I know we’re going to do it in camp.”
Burrell played the outfield twice last season, once in left field and once in right.
“There isn’t a right fielder as far as I know, so I told them if they need me to play, I’d like to play,” Burrell said. “That’s really about it. I don’t know what they’re going to do with (Ben) Zobrist and everyone else. Obviously, if he’s going to play right field, he deserves to play. If it doesn’t work out like that and there’s a chance for me to play, I’d love to.”
Burrell played left field during his nine years with the Phillies. In 2008, he was lifted in the later innings for a defensive replacement. He signed a two-year deal with the Rays before the 2009 season because the Rays were looking for a right-handed power bat who could be the DH.
“I certainly knew what I was getting into when I came (to Tampa Bay),” Burrell said. “Last year there were certainly a lot of guys out there. All of them were better candidates to play than I would be. I don’t know if I’m going to get the opportunity or not, but if I do, I would certainly do everything I can to help.”
Getting a few innings in right field during the season would be a big help if the Rays need Burrell in right during the season. Burrell played right field once last spring training and once last season, starting there when the Rays played the Rockies in Denver.
“I had my one day in the sun last year in Colorado,” he said. “It just depends on the makeup of the club. I think that’s all it comes down to. It depends on what they want to do. Personally, I need to be ready of they call on me to do it.”
Maybe returning to the field occasionally could help Burrell shake the slump that plagued him all of 2009.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m certainly familiar with playing in the outfield, not necessarily right. It’s something I need to work on.”