Burrell gets first start in field
Slugger plays right against Rockies and starter Cook
DENVER -- Designated hitter Pat Burrell added a new role to his job description Wednesday against the Rockies in Interleague Play. Actually, it's an old job description.
For the first time this season, Pat "The Bat" Burrell was Pat "The Glove" Burrell, as he was slotted in at right field and in the six hole in the lineup. Burrell has been the DH in all 32 games he has started.
"I'm sure it's going to be a test," Burrell said. "I haven't been out there, but I played every day for nine years. Hopefully, I won't have too many plays."
Manager Joe Maddon notified Burrell before the team left for Denver on Monday about his start in the middle game of the three-game series. Burrell has been taking fielding practice the last two days and before the game Wednesday, he and outfielder Gabe Kapler played catch from about 25 feet. To Burrell's right, in center field, was speedy center fielder B.J. Upton.
"I don't know," Upton said, laughingly, on his upcoming experience of playing with Burrell in the outfield. "That's what I'm waiting to see. He said it's going to be a blast."
The Rays preach defense, but Maddon inked Burrell's name in the lineup because he was mesmerized with Burrell's past against Rockies starter Aaron Cook. Burrell entered Wednesday hitting .688 (11-for-16) with a home run, four RBIs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.660 against Cook.
"I just couldn't walk away from that," Maddon said. "I've never had a player that's 11-for-16 against anybody. I've just got to go with it.
"I'm like, 'I'm an idiot if I don't give him a chance to play that game.'"
Maddon said Burrell will be taken out of the game for defensive purposes in the late innings if the Rays have a lead.
Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.