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Specialist to check Burrell's neck


Specialist to check Burrell's neck
By MARC TOPKIN

Times Staff Writer

BALTIMORE - With Pat Burrell's stiff neck not responding to treatment, the Rays sent him back to St. Petersburg on Wednesday for further evaluation to determine the cause of the lingering problem.

Burrell, bothered since late April, was to see team spinal consultant Dr. Tom Tolli on Wednesday night, but the team did not have an update by game time.

"Not that it's gotten worse; it's not getting better. I think that's the better way to describe it," manager Joe Maddon said. "We just thought it's at that point, let's really see what's going on there if it's anything more. And if there's not, that's great and we'll just continue along the same path."

Burrell first missed the April 28 game because of the problem, then played through it - and actually hit better - until sitting out Tuesday as the degree of discomfort would vary.

"It wasn't that it necessarily went away, but it would kind of lighten up a bit so he felt better about it, and then all of a sudden the next day might be a little more tight," Maddon said. "So it just kept vacillating. And finally you could just see (Tuesday) that when he said he was stiff, he was stiff. You could just see that. So we decided let's get it checked out."

Burrell was signed to a two-year, $16 million contract to add right-handed power to the lineup but has yet to produce much. He has a .250 average and 17 RBIs but has only five extra-base hits (four doubles and one homer).

Maddon said the problem on the left side of Burrell's neck may have been something of a pre-existing condition: "I think it's just been a continual thing. I think there's even some history in the past with it before we even saw him. "

A stiff neck is troubling for a hitter because it can prevent him from being able to turn and see the pitcher with both eyes and can inhibit his swing and follow-through. Maddon said Burrell's slow start "could be tied to it because it's been bothersome."

SHIELDS UP: Having workhorse ace James Shields on the mound, especially at Tropicana Field, is usually a comforting thought for the Rays . And it's even more so with their starters averaging less than six innings an outing, putting a strain on the bullpen, which has a 3.99 ERA through 991/3 innings.

"We just need him to continue to be himself, and we need the other guys in the rotation to start picking up a couple extra innings here and there," Maddon said. "We have to take some of the burden off the bullpen at some point. We've just got to get some of these guys deeper and Shields is the right guy to get it started."

CRAWFORD OUT, TOO: LF Carl Crawford, who has been off to a sizzling start, left Wednesday's game in the middle of the fifth inning with what the team said was a bruised right shoulder and is considered day-to-day.

Crawford was hurt making a diving catch off an Aubrey Huff line drive in the fourth. He grounded out to shortstop in the fifth and didn't return to the field for the bottom half , replaced by Ben Zobrist. After the game, Crawford said he didn't expect to miss significant time.

ON THE RUN: With Jason Bartlett's sixth-inning larceny, the Rays extended their streak to 15 games with a stolen base. There have been only two longer streaks by AL teams in the past 55 years, 17 games by the 2001 Yankees and the 1976 A's.

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Wade Davis worked into the sixth for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday; ex- Ray Jonny Gomes was 1-for-3 for Louisville. Double-A Montgomery 1B Rhyne Hughes hit his Southern League-leading 11th homer. RHP Aneury Rodriguez, the starter acquired from Colorado for RHP Jason Hammel, on Tuesday won his first game in seven starts for the Biscuits.

MISCELLANY: Tickets are available for all Indians games, but the Rays are advising advance purchases for Saturday, when all fans get an Evan Longoria rookie of the year figurine. The Rays don't play the Orioles again until Aug. 18.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 14, 2009

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