Pat Burrell is pining for Phillies boo birds

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burrell_pat.jpgPat Burrell misses getting booed. Really.

The former Phillies slugger, who spent last season doing next to nothing for the Tampa Bay Rays, sounds in this interview as if he’s pining for the passionate hatred of Philadelphia fans.

“I don’t know if there is any way of saying this without getting myself in trouble,” Burrell said. “But there is definitely a different excitement level [in Philadelphia]. I think more than anything, there is a stronger tradition for baseball there. That goes without saying.”

Burrell took a lot of heat during his days in Philly. Heat for his poor defense. Heat for his sometimes streaky bat and penchant for strikeouts. And did I mention his defense? The Rays signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal before the 2009 season when it became clear the Phillies were no longer interested. They gave him a cushy DH job, which not only allowed him the chance to emphasize his bat skills, but also provided safety from his own spikes, which can be quite dangerous when playing the field.

He rewarded them by hitting .221 with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs, one of his worst seasons. Now he’s praising Phillies fans for not being anything like the mellow followers of his current team.

“You talk to a lot of players and certain players don’t like to play in Philly,” Burrell said. “Certain guys love it and I was one of the guys that really enjoyed it. I probably saw the full parameter of the good and the bad. But at all times you knew that people cared. They want you to win and they come out and support you. I’m not sure enough players appreciate that because there aren’t many places like it. You have Chicago, New York, and places like that, but I think it’s the minority.”

Maybe Burrell is just poking a stick into the ant hill, trying to rile the Rays faithful into a healthy lather of hatred, hoping a little passion at the Trop will spur him on to his previously great ways. Or maybe he really does miss Philly with its cheesesteaks, rich history and boisterous fans.

Either way I wouldn’t take this sitting down if I was a Rays fan. I suggest the boo birds come out and take it to Burrell for his horrendous lack of respect. Rip him for every strikeout, for every nagging injury, for the millions of dollars he is stealing from your poor, cash-strapped franchise. If Pat Burrell misses getting booed, give him what he wants! Come on Rays fans! Who’s with me?

Hello? Anyone?

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Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.