Home News Bay Area native Pat Burrell returns home as Giants hitting coach

Bay Area native Pat Burrell returns home as Giants hitting coach

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SAN JOSE –  If Marco Luciano, Luis Matos and the rest of the Giants’ young hitters break out this season, a new – but familiar – face in the clubhouse will be a big reason why.

“Pat the Bat” is back with the Giants for the latest chapter in his charmed Bay Area baseball life.

Pat Burrell joined new manager Bob Melvin’s coaching staff as a hitting instructor, 29 years after helping San Jose’s Bellarmine High win the West Catholic Athletic League title, 14 years after helping spark the Giants’ breakthrough World Series run, and four years after he got his coaching start as a roving hitting instructor in the team’s minor league ranks.

“I got a chance to resurrect my career here,” said Burrell.  “So this organization holds a special place in my heart.”

The Giants were Burrell’s final stop on a pro career that began with him as the top pick in the 1998 draft after being a three-time All-American at the University of Miami. The Giants signed the then-33-year-old outfielder after he had been released by Tampa Bay early in 2010, and he played a vital role in helping bring home the first World Series title in the franchise’s San Francisco history.

Pat Burrell throws a warm-up ball into the left field bleachers moments before the start of Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Staff)
Pat Burrell throws a warm-up ball into the left field bleachers moments before the start of Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Staff) 

And to think, Burrell, now 47, started out as an unknown transfer from San Lorenzo Valley trying to make his mark on the Bellarmine team.

After dominating on the JV team as a sophomore in 1993, it became clear to Bells Gary Cunningham that the 6-foot-4 teenager with the strength to hit moonballs was a special talent.

“Obviously, he had great natural ability, and I’m not gonna go and change anything,” Cunningham said, before chuckling and adding, “As I say to people, “Hey, I didn’t screw him up, because he got to the major leagues.”

By the time Burrell became an established part of the Bellarmine lineup, coaches around the WCAL took drastic measures to deal with him.

“By the time he was a senior, he would get walked every time,” former Archbishop Mitty coach Bill Hutton recalled. “He’d get the Barry Bonds treatment.”

Cunningham got creative in response: he started batting the hulking slugger leadoff, since no team would dare walk the game’s first batter.

“Yeah, Gary was a bit ahead on the analytics there,” Burrell recalled.

San Francisco Giants hitting coach Pat Burrell attends FanFest on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, at San Pedro Square in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
San Francisco Giants hitting coach Pat Burrell attends FanFest on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, at San Pedro Square in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

Despite rarely seeing good pitches, the future first overall pick still hit .370 with 11 home runs as a senior, helping the Bells beat Serra and a two-sport athlete named Tom Brady for the league crown.

“He stood out. He hit the ball further than anybody,” Hutton remembered, while adding that Burrell was far from a one-man band on those great mid-90’s Bells. “He just looked like a pro.”

Burrell spent 12 seasons in the majors, hitting 292 home runs, mostly with the Phillies. He won two World Series rings, including with the Phillies in 2008 when he hit  33 home runs.

After retiring with the Giants following the 2011 season, Burrell stayed involved in the game as a media personality, assistant coach at Bellarmine and a part-time hitting instructor.

“You just try everything you can, and sometimes you get opportunities like I have had here,” said Burrell, who lives in Portola Valley.

Burrell said his experience in the limelight as a top prospect was a different world from what the Giants’ young players have to deal with.

“In our generation, when you were a prospect, there was some media attention, but nothing like today,”  Burrell said. “Nothing like what Marco Luciano is going through.”

The job for Burrell as a hitting-instructor will be to unlock the slugging potential of those youngsters. But the 12-year MLB veteran said his job is as much about the mental side of the game than it is about hitting mechanics.

“We want to get our guys ready for that night’s game. Who they’re facing, possible matchups down the road in the bullpen. Certainly there’s guys who have pinch-hit roles that might come in late in the game,” Burrell said. “We want to make sure they feel good and confident going into the game.”

Since Burrell has been in the Giants system for years, he already has a rapport with most of the Giants top prospects.

Giants Pat Burrell is congratulated by third base coach Tim Flannery after Burrell hits a seventh inning three-run home run as the Giants take on the Brewers at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. The Giants won 9-2. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)
Giants Pat Burrell is congratulated by third base coach Tim Flannery after Burrell hits a seventh inning three-run home run as the Giants take on the Brewers at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010. The Giants won 9-2. (Bay Area News Group archives) 

“I met him in 2020, and he’s been someone I can always reach out to,” second-year infielder Casey Schmitt said.

Cunningham, Burrell’s Bellarmine coach, says his star pupil has all the makings to be a success as a coach, just as he was as a player.

“He has a passion for the game,” Cunningham said. “He wasn’t one of those guys asking “When is practice going to be over, because I want to go do something.” He loved to practice and play, and that showed in his career.”

Now Burrell is ready to pen another successful chapter to his Bay Area story.

“I’ve found my home here working with players,” Burrell said.



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