Burrell showing signs of turnaround
Maddon believes early struggles were tied to neck pain
KANSAS CITY -- Pat Burrell hit a two-run homer Friday night and had an RBI double Saturday night, which turned out to be huge hits in the Rays' come-from-behind wins against the Royals.
Burrell entered Sunday's game hitting .237 with five home runs and 32 RBIs, which is far from the production that was forecast for the veteran slugger heading into the season, but he is definitely showing signs of coming around.
"I'm starting to feel pretty good," Burrell said.
Burrell started the season in a slump, which likely had a lot to do with the fact his stiff neck never seemed to heal until after a stint on the disabled list from May 11-June 11. Burrell won't make excuses, but Rays manager Joe Maddon believes the nagging injury had a lot to do with Burrell's slow start, as such an injury can create bad habits.
"When you're protecting something like that, I think you can develop a bad habit," Maddon said. "You don't realize you're doing it. All of a sudden, you wake up one day and your neck hurts and your swing is different."
Not only has Burrell had crucial hits the past two games, but he also had a walk-off homer against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on July 7.
"He's using his hands a lot better," Maddon said. "I don't see as much of a push of the bat through the strike zone. I'm seeing the bat head snapping through the zone. And I do believe the neck was a big issue in regard to that."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.