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Prized Rookie Starts At First

May 25, 2000

HOUSTON (AP) _ Pat Burrell arrived at Enron Field early, just to savor the moment Wednesday.

``I was a great feeling to know that I’d be out there playing in a couple of hours,″ the Philadelphia Phillies newcomer said after his brief tour of the Houston Astros’ new ballpark.

Burrell, the first selection in the 1998 June draft, went on the fast track to the major leagues when first baseman Rico Brogna broke a bone in his left hand May 10 and underwent surgery.

Does he feel ready?

``Obviously, that was a decision that was up to them, but yeah, I think I am,″ Burrell said. ``I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It’s unfortunate that Rico had to be down but I’m happy to be here.″

Burrell, who had been playing left field for Triple-A Scranton, moved to first base immediately and made the jump to the major leagues in time to start Wednesday night’s game against Houston.

``I told Pat `you’ll never have another feeling like this,‴ Phillies manager Terry Francona said. ``You only get called up to the major leagues one time. When you’re a kid playing in the backyard, you’re not playing in Triple-A, it’s the big leagues.″

Burrell hit .294 in 40 games with Scranton with 31 runs, 15 doubles, four homers and 25 RBIs. Since May 3, he hit .387 with all four of his homers.

Burrell understands the expectations that go with being a No. 1 draft choice.

``I’ve always thought the best way to do is play your best and to enjoy yourself,″ Burrell said. ``That’s (expectations) going to happen anyway. I’ve been dealing with that since I signed.″

Francona just wants his newest player to get started.

``We don’t expect him to be the savior,″ Francona said. ``He doesn’t have to be the spark, but it would be nice.″

And what happens when Brogna returns?

``That’s three months from now,″ Francona said. ``I’m just trying to get through tonight.″

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