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David Brown

Burrell matures beyond hedonistic streak into leader for Giants

David Brown
Big League Stew

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The San Francisco Giants received more than one of their lineup's top sluggers when they recycled Pat Burrell(notes) from the unemployment line in late May.

Burrell, who just turned 34, also became their leader. He's simply not just one of the good guys in the clubhouse. He's not just one of the Giants leaders.

"Pat The Bat" apparently is also The Man among Giants.

Andrew Baggarly, the Giants' beat reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, calls Burrell "the confident soul of their clubhouse," the team's "full-fledged leader" and manager Bruce Bochy's "conduit to the clubhouse."

Bochy (above with Burrell) calls him prompt, passionate and positive.

From Baggarly's story:

"The reason he has that quality is because he loves the game, he enjoys what he's doing, and people gravitate to that," Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey(notes) said. "You don't want to follow somebody who's in a bad mood. He's out there having fun, and everyone else wants to do the same."

The story juxtaposes this surprising side of Burrell with his notable reputation for partying, one applied during his seasons (2000-2008) with the Philadelphia Phillies.

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• Burrell "was known to chase more than just fly balls in Philly," Baggarly writes.

• He "was known as the mayor of Rittenhouse Square" — a guy who turned his good looks and ballplayer status into playa status out in the world.

(Hey, Burrell might not have been a Boy Scout while in Philly, but as the above photo from 2003 shows, he was willing to demonstrate to the youngsters how it was done by a major leaguer.)

Jeez, this might be the first time a major league ballplayer (a married one, at that) has been said to have a hedonistic streak since ... oh, take your pick of the 1986 New York Mets. Also, can STATS, Baseball-Reference or Elias quantify who's had the longest hedonistic streak since 1920?

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Now, having a reputation for chasing skirts (or letting them come to you) and being the leader of a major league baseball team are not necessarily mutually exclusive activities.

But, maturity lends itself better to leading men than it does leading around women.

Baggarly hypothesizes — and he's not the first to do so — that young Pat Burrell didn't have a lot of maturity, and perhaps that's why his tenure in Philly didn't meet everyone's huge expectations.

But if he's really the Giants leader, Burrell must have gained some maturity along the way.

Good for him and good for the Giants.

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