SAN FRANCISCO — Last November, Frank Coppenbarger sent a text message to Pat Burrell. Coppenbarger, the Phillies' longtime director of travel and clubhouse services, floated the idea of Burrell returning to Philadelphia sometime during the 2012 season for a retirement ceremony.
Burrell had witnessed similar events for Doug Glanville and Mike Lieberthal. He was intrigued by the idea, but unsure whether he wanted the added attention as he adapts to life without the daily routine of baseball.
"What do you think?" Burrell texted back.
Coppenbarger had Larry Shenk, the team's vice president of alumni relations, call Burrell. This was happening. Burrell, 35, will sign a one-day, minor-league contract and retire a Phillie on May 19.
"He was really excited," Shenk said.
First, Burrell was honored Tuesday by the Giants, his final team. He wore his 2010 World Series ring and threw out the first pitch at AT&T Park.
The ring from 2008 is at home in Arizona, Burrell said, and he typically doesn't wear either one. He'll be bringing the Phillies ring to Citizens Bank Park in May.
"It's a special deal," Burrell said. "I was fortunate that they'd even ask me to do it."
Burrell remains employed by the Giants even after foot and shoulder injuries forced an end to his playing career. He spent the spring at San Francisco's training complex doing some scouting of the team. His role is still in flux and he could eventually see himself coaching.
"In some capacity I think I'll always be a part of it," Burrell said, "if I'm given the opportunity."
Burrell made approximately $70 million during his playing career. The first overall pick in the 1998 draft never made an All-Star team, but he ranks fourth all-time in Phillies home runs, eighth in RBIs and fifth in walks.
He has more World Series rings (two) than World Series hits (one) but his place in Phillies history was secured when he doubled in Game 5 of the 2008 Series to represent the eventual winning run. Then he led the parade down Broad Street.
Burrell said he saw Chase Utley, a close friend, in Arizona recently.
"I know he's doing everything he can to get back," Burrell said. "I just don't know. He doesn't say a whole lot as you guys know. And I don't want to get into his business. I know he's dying to get back on the field. I think at this point he wants to make sure he's doing everything he can so when he does come back he doesn't have hiccups."
Burrell's own career ended in 2011 without much fanfare. He was limited to 92 games and a .230 batting average. He said he knew halfway through the season the chronic right foot injury was too much.
"This has been bothering me for a long time," Burrell said. "Time just ran out."
Now, the fêtes begin.
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