First, there was Dallas Green suggesting that Pat Burrell was ruining his career by having too many women hanging on his arm. Lately, it's been Mike Schmidt talking about how often Burrell strikes out. Add to that all of the trade rumors and the fact that the Phillies openly courted Alfonso Soriano this off-season and things weren't very positive for Burrell.
"It's disappointing to hear things like that," Burrell told reporters in Clearwater on Thursday. He stressed though that he didn't believe his lifestyle played any role in his supposed down numbers in 2007. Numbers which Burrell says nobody would be looking at had he not been benched as often as he was. "If I had those 100 at bats," said Burrell, "we wouldn't even be talking."
When you watch Pat Burrell, you understand how and why Burrell wound up on the bench. When you just look at his numbers - 29 HR, 95 RBI, .258 AVG - just his batting average jumps out as disappointing. The truth is that Burrell is somewhere between the bad player that his critics make him out to be and the superstar that he was supposed to be at this point in his career.
Burrell said there was "no harm" in Green's comments and found Schmidt's comments slightly odd coming from a player who struck out as often as the Hall of Famer did. Burrell said that he's hopeful that he can improve his strikeout numbers, which he acknowledges are bad, but didn't offer any guarantees.
If all is going to play out perfectly, Burrell will be the big bat that they need him to be and will be backing up Ryan Howard in the batting order. The Phillies desperately need someone to give Howard protection in the lineup and Burrell would be the logical choice, if he can swing a big enough bat. Not to use his injuries as an excuse, Burrell believes that if he's healthy, he will be the player that the Phillies look for him to be.