Burrell not sure what to expect from Philly fans
Giants outfielder well received in August series, but this is NLCS
PHILADELPHIA -- Two years ago, Pat Burrell was a king of the Phillies' World Series parade. On Saturday night, he's not sure what his reception will be like when he returns to Citizens Bank Park in a Giants uniform to open another National League Championship Series."We'll find out, that's the good thing about it," Burrell said on Friday. "I don't know, really. I've always had tremendous amount of respect for the fans here. At times, things weren't good, and then they were. Sometimes the fans booed, and other times they showed their support. That's one of the great things about playing here: the fans. They really care about and support this team." The last time Burrell wore a Phillies uniform, it was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series against the Rays right here at the Bank. Brad Lidge closed a game that was played out over three days because of torrential rain that hit the area. The Phillies won, 4-3, to claim the Fall Classic. It was only the second World Series title in Phillies history, and even though Burrell batted .071 (one single, no RBIs in 14 at-bats), the players were heroes to all.
"He was a big part of that team," said Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino. "Anytime you win a World Series, everyone plays a big part. I played in center, he played in left. It's not only what he did in the postseason, it's what he did for the whole city. When he left here, a lot of people wanted him back. I wanted to keep playing alongside him, but it was just one of those things. It was a business decision."Burrell batted .229 with three homers and eight RBIs in that postseason and was a free agent afterward. The Phillies figured it was time to part ways after nine seasons. Burrell grew up as a player in Philly and was developed by the Phillies organization. During the 2008 season, it all came to fruition. "We had a special group when I was here two years ago, too," Burrell said. Most of it is still intact as the Phillies vie to become the first NL team since the 1942-44 Cardinals to win three pennants in a row. But it was Tampa Bay that signed Burrell for two years and $16 million. The move turned out to be disastrous from a baseball sense. Burrell said he suffered through a disc injury in his neck there last season and never could quite get back in shape as a designated hitter. His Rays tenure lasted 146 games and included 16 homers and 77 RBIs. When they released him this past May 19, Burrell didn't know whether he'd play again. But the Giants picked him up 10 days later for a prorated portion of Major League Baseball's minimum $400,000 salary. The Rays paid the remainder of the $10 million they owned him. Burrell turned out to be a great asset for the Giants, as he hit 18 homers, drove in 51 runs and batted .266 in 96 games. And here he is, back in the postseason, back in Philadelphia again. A local favorite. "I like Pat Burrell," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I like him. He's a good friend of mine. He's like my son in a lot of ways. I spent a lot of time with him. But when we walk out there to play baseball, we're going to get him out. That's what we're out here for. Do I want him to get any hits? Not at all. That's how I look at it. We've got to beat him." Burrell said the same thing. When he takes it out on the field Saturday night with the Giants, it will be "all business." But he admits that the emotions will be stirring, his eyes may be glistening. The Giants have already played three games this season back here -- Aug. 17-19. When Burrell came up to the plate his first time in that series, he received a nice reception, he recalled. He went 2-for-11 with a pair of RBIs in the series as the Giants lost two of the three games. Both hits were home runs. That, of course, was then and this is now. "Obviously this is a much bigger stage," Burrell said. "It's going to be kind of different being here this time of year, especially on the other side. There's going to be a lot of excitement. I'm just looking forward to the whole thing."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.