07/27/2004 8:30 PM ET
Notes: Burke reflects on collision
Catcher says Monday's crash was his hardest
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Jamie Burke played football and baseball at Roseburg High School and suited up on the gridiron for Oregon State University.
The 32-year-old veteran also has been catching professionally since 1998. But Burke has never experienced a collision with the impact of Torii Hunter running into him during the eighth inning of Monday's 6-2 loss to the Twins.
Burke was setting up for Timo Perez's throw from right on Henry Blanco's bid for a sacrifice fly, when Hunter altered his path ever so slightly, moved up the line and planted him with his left forearm seconds before the baseball arrived. Burke stayed in the game until Joe Borchard pinch-hit for him in the bottom half of the inning.
Much like most players on the White Sox, Burke had mixed emotions regarding the collision with Hunter. He respected the aggressiveness, but thought there might have been another option.
"He could have ran straight into home plate," Burke said prior to Tuesday's game of Monday's impromptu meeting with Hunter. "He could have slid around. I pretty much gave him the whole plate.
"That's a free area right there. You see it all the time. I respect the guy as a player. He plays the game hard, and that's why they win because every one of those guys goes out there and plays to the end.
"I can't say much about it because it's part of the game," Burke added. "Maybe it could have been avoidable a little bit, but again, by all means, it's just the way the game is."
Mark Buehrle, Monday's starter, took Burke to Rush Presbyterian Hospital after the game for precautionary measures, with Burke being unable to drive. Burke waited a good portion of the night in the emergency room, before he was checked into the hospital for observation of a concussion.
Burke was released Tuesday afternoon and felt good but still was a bit groggy. He was ready to play, but trainer Herm Schneider wouldn't allow it.
The break also might give him a chance to watch tape of the full play, something he managed to avoid as of early Tuesday. Burke didn't hold any animosity toward Hunter, and believed the matter was past history.
"Hermie thinks I'll be even sorer tomorrow," Burke said. "It felt like a truck hit me and that's what happened. It's just like playing football on the first day in full pads.
"You might as well get on a railroad track and get run over by a train. That's what it was like. I'm just glad I didn't expect it because I think I took that blow a lot better than I would have if I was tense."
Pitching in: With Buehrle lending a helping hand to his friend and teammate Monday, he was unavailable to talk about his first loss in four 2004 starts to the Central Division leaders. In fact, Monday's defeat broke a string of six straight victories for Buehrle over Minnesota.
While Buehrle didn't think the Twins hit him as hard as the 12 hits allowed in 6 1/3 innings might indicate, it was a location problem that put him behind from the start.
"I wasn't throwing strike one and I was falling behind in the count," said Buehrle, who slipped to 10-4. "I hit a lot of spots where they were still getting base hits. I would get two strikes, come inside and make a good pitch and the ball wasn't hit that hard. But it's one of those games where they find the holes."
Buehrle makes his next start Saturday evening in Detroit against Mike Maroth. The Tigers' left-hander picked up two victories over the White Sox during his 9-21 effort in 2003.
Point of preference: Manager Ozzie Guillen pointed out that players take different baserunning approaches in terms of trying to score from second or third in game situations. For Burke, it always involves a slide.
"I try to avoid contact unless the plate is completely covered," Burke said. "You are putting yourself in jeopardy, too, in terms of getting hurt or getting tagged out. A lot of guys catch the ball first and they might hold on to it.
"I'm going to try to get that back edge and slide around. If he comes in front, then you have to take care of business."
Paul Konerko had a slightly different take on that split-second decision made in coming home.
"I've never been fast enough to try to do that," Konerko said with a smile.
A true hero: Aaron Rowand made a special trip to Hope Children's Hospital in Oakland on Tuesday afternoon to visit Brad Papala, a 15-year-old Oak Lawn native who is battling a very aggressive form of cancer. White Sox broadcaster Dave Wills had set up a meeting to drop off a tape of something he said about Papala and his family on ESPN 1000's postgame show a few days ago, and Rowand offered to go along when the visit was mentioned to him.
Rowand presented Papala with an autographed baseball bat and helmet.
Down on the farm: Wesley Whisler allowed two earned runs and four hits over six innings, striking out five, during Single-A Kannapolis' 3-2 victory at Lexington. Leo Daigle's 13th home run helped Whisler improve to 3-0 with a 1.59 earned run average over his last four starts.
Ryan Sweeney had two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored during Single-A Winston-Salem's 9-3 victory over Lynchburg. First-round pick Josh Fields added two hits, raising his average to .252. Wilson Valdez had three hits and Mario Valenzuela added his 18th home run during Triple-A Charlotte's 12-6 loss at Durham. Tom Collaro had two home runs and five RBIs, as Great Falls fell by a 10-7 margin at Idaho Falls.
|Jamie Burke took a hit in his collision with Torii Hunter on Monday. (Brian Kersey/AP)
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.