Notes: Players say Rays should act
Tampa Bay considering Bonds: Burriss' maturation continues
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If the Tampa Bay Rays are serious about signing Barry Bonds, Giants players believe they should seize the opportunity.Reacting to a report in the St. Petersburg Times about Rays management pondering the acquisition of Bonds and other veteran free agents, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon confirmed to reporters Monday that "a minor discussion was thrown out there a little bit." Although a Bonds signing seems unlikely for the Rays, it would make sense to his ex-San Francisco teammates. "He's going to make any team better," left fielder Dave Roberts said. "Right now, he's a steal." "I could see Tampa doing that to try to make a splash," said right fielder Randy Winn, a former Ray. The prospect of Bonds joining an American League team has long been viewed as logical, since he could serve as designated hitter and spare his balky knees from the physical stress of playing left field. "Obviously, that bodes better for him," Roberts said. Infielder Rich Aurilia pointed out that Bonds would face an adjustment as a full-time DH. "You have to be loose from the first inning," Aurilia said. "You don't get a chance to go out in the field and loosen up." In 39 career appearances as a DH, Bonds owns a .259 average (30-for-116) -- well below his overall career average of .298 -- with 10 home runs, 21 RBIs and 54 walks. Aurilia also wondered whether playing for the Rays, who aren't expected to contend in the powerful AL East, might wear on Bonds. "I don't know if Barry wants go to through that," said Aurilia, who's accustomed to experiencing pennant races with the all-time home run leader. But it was generally agreed that Bonds would enjoy hitting in Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field, where he'd probably find the outfield barriers easier to clear than at San Francisco's AT&T Park. "I don't see how he wouldn't hit 40 homers there," Roberts said. Bonds hit 28 in 340 at-bats last year, including 16 at home. "It's a fair ballpark," Winn said. "It's reachable for guys who aren't big-time power hitters. San Francisco's one of the toughest parks for left-handed power hitters and he's made it look very easy."
Burriss adjusts: Maintaining a big-picture perspective is often healthy. But sometimes it's better to concentrate on the here and now, as shortstop Emmanuel Burriss learned last season.Burriss, considered a top prospect since being selected in the supplemental round (33rd overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, stunned observers by batting .165 through 36 games with high Class A San Jose last year. Sent to low Class A Augusta, Burriss recovered by hitting .321 in 89 games and was named a postseason South Atlantic League All-Star. "The big difference for me was focusing on the task at hand," said Burriss, a non-roster invitee. "I was thinking about getting to the bigs, what other coaches were thinking about me, how the organization felt about me. I didn't really focus on the game. Nobody can succeed without doing that." The switch-hitting Burriss continued his progress in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .365 with nine runs, six RBIs and eight stolen bases in 17 games for Scottsdale. He replaced Dan Ortmeier, who played only six games after fracturing the tip of his left middle finger. Burriss also demonstrated his versatility by playing second base. "I knew instantly it was a great opportunity," he said. "Anytime you get a chance to play with that caliber of players, I was ready. Nobody had to pump me up for the games or anything like that." Burriss, 23, has played exclusively shortstop this spring. But with shortstop Brian Bocock also rising through the system, a shift back to second could be possible. "Honestly, what the Giants want is what I'll do," Burriss said. "Once they make the decision, it's up to me to go out there and give them the results they want. As long as they put me on that big league field, I'll catch if they want me to." Injury update: Bengie Molina's strained left quadriceps muscle felt good enough to allow him to take batting practice off coaches, although he hasn't resumed catching.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.