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(Statesman) Burke embraces Center field

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by DaDakota, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    Looks like Burke in CF this year !
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    Astros' Burke embraces starting job
    Former Express star gets shot at center field.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Chris Burke finally has the everyday spot in the Houston Astros' lineup he's always coveted.

    All he has to do now is figure out how to play his position.

    Former Express star Chris Burke has moved from jack of all trades to everyday center fielder for the Astros.

    Burke will be Houston's regular center fielder this season after Willy Taveras was traded to Colorado. The 26-year-old Burke has started only 37 games in center in two seasons, seeing more time as a backup infielder. But he's played the other outfield positions and thinks his versatility will help him learn his new role faster.

    "By playing a lot of different positions, you realize you've gotten exposed to all different types of plays," the former Round Rock Express standout said. "A big part of this spring is trying to be as prepared as possible for everything that comes my way."

    Taveras was part of a deal that brought pitcher Jason Jennings over from the Rockies. A benefit of the move was the opening it created for Burke, whose hitting was often missed last season. Burke batted .276 with nine homers and 40 RBIs in only 366 at-bats.

    "We had to find a place for Chris Burke to play," general manager Tim Purpura said.

    The Astros' position players were due Wednesday, but Burke arrived two days early.

    "There is a lot to work on," he said. "For the most part, my outfield history has just been going out there on game day and doing the best I can. Now, I'm actually going to spend some time preparing on it."

    For the first time, Burke focused more in the offseason on sprinting and improving his throwing accuracy.

    One of the biggest challenges of playing center field, he said, is developing a quick first step when the ball is hit.

    One drill involves a coach throwing up his left arm or his right arm and Burke reacting to the path of the imaginary ball. Purpura said another drill requires an outfielder to close his eyes when a ball is struck, running to the spot where he thinks it will land and not opening them until he's ready to make the catch.

    Astros manager Phil Garner isn't expecting Burke to grasp the idiosyncrasies immediately.

    "He's a good athlete, he'll figure it out," Garner said. "He'll make some mistakes, but he's an intelligent player."

    "Obviously, I'm going to mess up," Burke said. "Even the best mess up, so, for me, it's just trying to minimize my mistakes."

    And if he has to crash into a wall, he won't be afraid to do it, even after dislocating his left (non-throwing) shoulder hitting the wall at Coors Field last May. Burke sat out two weeks, then re-injured the shoulder while batting in June.

    He played with pain the rest of the year and had offseason surgery.

    "Hopefully, when I do that this year," he said with a grin, "my shoulder will stay in the socket."

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    Thought this deserved it's own thread....I am glad he is getting into the lineup....I hope he can man CF....

    DD
     
  2. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    This was a no-brainer. He's gotten to be a darn good LF. I'm confident he'll be at least adequate in CF. We've been spoiled having Willy T roaming the big part of the park, but Burke won't be bad.
     
  3. Buck Turgidson

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    Sure does.

    "I think we're better offensively with Chris Burke in center field."

    - Tim Purpura, after Willy T was traded, 72 days ago.
     
  4. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    Yep, but it is still fun to share articles about it as they come out.

    DD
     
  5. Buck Turgidson

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    Your intro made it sound like it was newnews or su'in. And then remembering the "Who's going to play CF?" thread that was all of an inch down on the list made me chuckle.

    Here, have a smiley: :)
     
  6. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    No, I know....I just wanted to share the article.....

    DD
     
  7. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    I appreciate it. It was a nice read even if it wasn't exactly loaded with breaking news. It does talk about some of the preparation stuff which was new to them being at spring training.

    Sometimes these get lost in the mega-threads. In my opinion if it were from the Detroit News, or something it wouldn't deserve its own thread, but I think the same article in the Chron would deserve its own thread, and I would say the same, I think, for the Austin American-Statesman.
     
  8. Buck Turgidson

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    What about this:

    Prediction: Burke will hit .289 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs with four errors in center in 2007. What do you think? -- JdJO

    ;)
     

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