Pat Burrell spent close to a half an hour yesterday fielding questions about his past, present and future in Philadelphia. Those who have covered the outfielder say he was much more thoughtful and philosophical than normal.
He said he is "100 percent" sure that he wants to return to Philadelphia after this season, the last in a six-year, $50 million contract extension he signed following what was thought to be a breakout 2002 season.
Problem is, the Phillies may not feel the same way. In fact, judging by their actions over the previous few seasons, the team will not shed many tears when he leaves. The two sides have not talked contract extension, and all indications are they will not.
Burrell set a career-high in walks and on-base percentage last year and a career-low in strikeouts. He also hit 30 home runs in just 472 at-bats. To put that in perspective, Burrell his 37 home runs in 586 at-bats in 2002, which is considered his best season to date.
We wrote about Burrell today in the Daily News. Here's more of his answers from yesterday's session:
On why he wants to return: "You just never know. I think through it all, my mind set has always been, hey, the Phillies have always treated me great. Has there been some rough times? Absolutely. I think anybody who has played long enough has gone through those things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better somewhere else. I feel fortunate to be able to stay with the organization this long.
"I’d love to come back. It’s really got more to do with the guys on the team than anything else. This group of guys is going to win, and they’re going to win for a long time. With the offense they have here, it’s scary. With Cole and Kendrick and Brett, I think there are going to be a lot of good things for a long period of time. In the aspect of being a baseball player, you want to be around a winning organization, and there’s really not that many of them out there, so to have the foundation I have here and see the transformation of what’s happened, absolutely. No doubt."
On the various struggles he has had with the Phillies: "I think any time you deal with adversity and go through some of the things I have in this game, youv’e got two choices: you can let it beat you up or you can let it build from it and go forward. Because you become not only a better player, but a better person, definitely more understanding. You always see certain players struggle. Sometimes you feel like you are all along out there. Everybody who has played long enough ahs been through times where things aren’t going right. I think it’s a good thing."
On the city of Philadelphia: "I don’t know anything else. Anybody that tell you that they came to Philly from wherever they were and it wasn’t an adjustment period, they aren’t telling you the truth. I came up and was a first round draft pick and there was a lot of hype and a lot of expectation, and I enjoy that. Have I also seen the other side of that? Absolutely. I’ve also played in other stadiums and seen reactionst aht other fans give their teams. In Philly when it’s good, there is no better place. There is something different about the north east when it comes to baseball. There is an excitement there where they can’t wait to jump on that team and support if the team is playing well. That goes both ways, but there are also places where I’m not sure if there’s that big of a deal if it’s winning or losing."
On his up-and-down performance last season: "I think there are two seasons in one. It started off bad, to the point where I wasn’t playing. Something just took over right around the all-star break, and I think really about a week before the all-star break I started having some success, where I really felt like I was building on something. I was able to just carry it on. I think for a lot of players, you start seeing signs that things are improving, and you start building, and you just keep going and keep going and you just can’t look back. That’s where I’m trying to get now, just try to get moving in the right direction and hopefully not have to spend the whole second half trying to make up for the first half."
On whether he has talked to manager Charlie Manuel about letting him stay in games longer rather than substituting for a defensive replacement: "We’ve talked about that, the one thing is, he knows from talking from me is, hey, you know what, if I’m on second base in a tie game with two outs, then I’ll be the first guy to say you might want to put somebody in that’s got a little bit better speed tos core and win. That’s not an issue. But like you said, about missing the number of bats. Where do you think you can help? We got into kind of a rut where it was basically a two-way switch with third base and left field, and there are only so many guys, so you have to be careful how you do it. So it becomes complicated. That’s up to me. If I show that I’m healthy and moving around out there, it may make the decision and little easier. It’s not rocket science. I’m enver going to fast, I never have been fast. I’m never going to steal bases. I never have. So there are some thing that are just, it is what it is."
On whether he feels like a second-fiddle when compared to Rollins, Howard and Utley: "There’s nothing like that with me. I’m their biggest supporter. Chase and I are really good buddies. I’m his biggest supporter and he’s an unbelievable player. Howard, I can’t imagine what he’s going. I told a guy the other day, he’s going to have 100 home runs every two years, and not that difficult. It’s not like it’s a stretch. It might be 60 a year. Who knows. I don’t think its unrealistic to say that if he stays healthy he could hit 50 home runs a year. I don’t know if he looks at it that way. If I was him, I probably wouldn’t either. He had a down year with 47, 135? Come on. It’s a whole different player. And Jimmy, to be able to do what he does and play short stop, steal the bases, and be as quick as he can, and be the threat that he’s become offensively. . ."