I caught up with Josh Burrus about three weeks ago at the Braves spring training facility. He was up from the minor league camp that day to play a little in the major league game. He is a somewhat soft spoken kid with a pretty deep voice, and he was very nice throughout the whole interview.
Martin Gandy: You've had some injury problems the last couple of years, is that correct?
Josh Burrus: Last year, yeah. I had a torn labrum in my shoulder and a pulled oblique muscle probably a couple of weeks after I came back; three weeks after I came back. I came back in June of last year from the labrum and then I think I was right back out the first of July. Those were all last year, but I'm healthy now so I'm looking forward to getting this one rolling.
MG: You've had a bit of decline in power as you've moved up the system. Have the injuries contributed to that or is there some other reason?
JB: No, not really. I would say the year before I got hurt was actually the year I had most homeruns that I've had in a year. And then last year I didn't get into the flow that much at all. I would say that last year was just a down year from the injury and I never really got into it too much; never got into that groove. Hopefully this year everything will come back and we'll get it flowing.
MG: You've played two years in a row now in the AFL, has that helped you out?
JB: The first year I didn't really play because I went out there and I was only out there for two weeks or so. I couldn't even throw anymore, so I got shut down out there. Last year I learned a lot more things, like being patient at the plate, recognizing pitches, getting pitches in the count that I would like to hit. Being more patient and being more productive.
MG: Any Braves coaches go out there?
JB: Franklin Stubbs was the hitting coach that was out there this year.
MG: Did he help you out a lot?
JB: Yeah, definitely, definitely. We were out there working all the time in the cage and stuff, and basically just sitting on the bench and talking. Picking stuff up from pitchers, he's helped me out with stuff like that.
MG: Was he your coach last year too?
JB: No, but it Myrtle Beach he was, and I guess he'll be in Mississippi this year, though.
MG: Where do you see yourself starting this year?
MG: Have they told you that already?
JB: No, but I'd figure I'd pretty much go back there since I didn't play there last year very long - I think I was only there for two months or so. I figured I'd go back there and play.
MG: How's the spring going so far?
JB: Pretty good. We had our first game yesterday, and that went pretty well for me. Minor league game over there, it was the first action playing against somebody, so that went well for me yesterday - I felt good at the plate. Like I said it was a good start; I got a couple of hits so maybe that's a good sign for the season.
MG: What kind of player are you? How would you define yourself to Atlanta fans?
JB: I'm not a big power guy, I like to stay gap to gap and steal some bases. Every once in a while I get a hold of one, but I've never seen myself as a guy to really hit a lot of homeruns or nothing. I just stay in the gaps and get doubles and some triples and stuff like that. Fortunately in the past I've been able to get some balls out, but pretty much just trying to get on base and score some runs, steal some bases, stuff like that.
MG: Do you pattern yourself after any particular player?
JB: No, not really, I don't really pattern myself after anybody. I guess a lot of people say I have quick hands like Gary Sheffield, and if I could be like anybody I guess he'd be the one I'd like to pattern myself after. I like the way he swings, swings the bat, he swings it hard. I like the way he gets that backspin on balls.
MG: Do you try to wrap the bat around like Gary does?
JB: No, I'll leave that up to him, I'd just like to get those line drives like he does.
MG: What does it mean to be around the big league guys this spring
JB: This is only the second time I've been over in big league camp this spring, and last year I was here. It's pretty cool, I enjoy picking up some things and learn some things from other guys. The other day we went down to Tampa to see the Yankees play, and I liked that. I just get to watch Chipper and Andruw hit and then you also get to go over and you get to see Jeter and A-Rod approach to the plate - that's fun to watch.
MG: Of the places you've played in the minors, what's your favorite place?
JB: My favorite place in the minors - where's my favorite place. I guess it'd probably be Lexington. They had a new stadium that was really nice, and they always had a good fan turnout there. Lexington was good and maybe Lake County, that was a good one. The places that have a good turnout and good fan support, it's fun. And our organization of course - Mississippi and Rome - they're gorgeous parks also.
MG: Well, thanks a lot and good luck to you.
JB: Thank you.