Clubhouse Comedian Happy In His New Digs
“Bagels and pizza baby!”
Those are the things infielder Sean Burroughs jokingly told us were what he was looking forward to most after re-signing with the Ducks this week. But that’s not all.
“And chicken cutlet,” he continued, “They don’t have that out in California!”
All kidding aside, the former big leaguer is clearly thrilled to be returning to the Ducks for the 2016 season. After experiencing just under two months on Long Island following the blockbuster trade that brought him across the Long Island Sound from Bridgeport, Burroughs is convinced that Bethpage Ballpark is the place to call home.
“I’m super excited,” he exclaimed. “Coming into the Atlantic League, Long Island was one of the teams that you heard of. They kind of set the standard for the league. After coming over midway through last season, I had a great time. I loved the city, the stadium, the team, everything about it, so it was kind of a no brainer. This is a great opportunity to keep playing, get out there on the field and have fun.”
The swap between longtime rivals was surprising upon first glance. Sabatella was a Long Island native and had an All-Star first half, while Burroughs had been a key contributor in Bridgeport’s lineup for the previous year and a half. Both teams were also in a tight race for the Second Half Liberty Division title. However, the Ducks had just lost first baseman Jon Griffin for the season to a broken hand, and the Bluefish were in need of an outfielder following the retirement of Brandon Jones.
Long Island was certainly aided by the deal. After starting the second half 13-16, they went 21-19 following the swap and played well enough to earn a wild card berth into the playoffs. Meanwhile, their Ferry Cup rivals finished the regular season four games behind them in the division and 24 games back in the wild card race. Burroughs was a big key in the Ducks’ lineup, as he batted .366 in 37 games with the Flock, driving in 24 runs and posting a .422 on-base percentage. His hot finish also enabled him to secure the Atlantic League batting crown by percentage points of his former teammate and Player of the Year, Welington Dotel. Despite moving midseason from one end of the rivalry to another, Burroughs found the transition to be fairly easy.
“It wasn’t hard at all,” he noted. “I always loved coming across the ‘pond’ and playing on Long Island. When I was traded there, it was a blessing in disguise because I loved the field and the atmosphere. It was just getting to know my teammates that took a little bit of time, but after that it was smooth sailing.”
Part of the reason why he developed a quick chemistry with his teammates was his innate ability to be the “team comedian.” Every day around the batting cage, Burroughs was constantly cracking jokes with his teammates and truly showcasing his love of baseball. For example, each time he stepped in to take batting practice, he would shout out sound effects every time he lined the ball all over the field, much to the delight of his teammates and coaches. Most people don’t see his humor when they come to the ballpark, but he surely played a big role in keeping the guys in the clubhouse loose. In fact, it’s a role he takes great pride in having.
“I think it’s crucial to the team,” Burroughs noted. “I’m not really a quiet leader, per se. I expect good results and respect the game of baseball, but the same time, I love having fun. I love being vocal on the field, in the clubhouse and on the bus. That’s always how I’ve kind of been. It’s not like I’m out there messing around or anything. It’s just a matter of keeping guys loose and having fun. Baseball’s fun, and who knows how much longer all of us are going to play.”
Despite his season ending shorter than desired with a first round playoff loss to Somerset, the 35-year-old did not simply shut things down this offseason. In fact, he took an unintended tour throughout the Caribbean. After spending several weeks in the Northeast, Burroughs signed with Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League and was reunited with former teammate Ryan Kussmaul. About a month later, he was traded to Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican Winter League. Then, after just two weeks in Mexico, his team needed the roster spot for a pitcher they had. That’s when Estrellas de Oriente in the Dominican Republic called to add him for their playoffs. It was a whirlwind experience for the veteran, who combined to hit .319 during the winter league season, but one that he enjoyed going through.
“I hit the whole Caribbean and just missed Puerto Rico,” he quipped before going on to say, “I enjoyed it, man. This was my third year in Venezuela, first in Mexico and first in the Dominican Republic. They all have their different styles of play, but they all love baseball. I had a great time in all three countries. It was a long year of baseball, but I loved every minute of it.”
The busy offseason did not stop there. Upon arriving back home in California, Burroughs took advantage of the opportunity to cross an item off of his bucket list. Thanks to a friend of his that worked for the Dallas Cowboys, he was able to attend Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“I was unsure because it’s just such a big ‘hoopla’ out there with the parties, the people and the crowds,” he reminisced, “but I think everyone has to experience a Super Bowl one time. I went to Mark Cuban’s DirecTV party that Saturday. I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers play and saw Cuban deejaying with Snoop Dogg. Then Sunday was the game, and I was pulling for the Broncos. I think probably 90% of the USA was probably pulling for the Broncos because of Peyton’s story and who knew if it was going to be his last year. I’ve always kind of been a Broncos fan, and growing up, a lot of my buddies were pulling for them. So I guess my team won, and I really enjoyed it. It was a fun experience!”
Photo taken by Sean at Super Bowl 50
Now that he’s been able to relax for a couple of weeks and figure out his plans for next year, Burroughs is eager to get back to the Ducks and the Atlantic League. He can sense the baseball season rapidly approaching and has the itch to rewrite the script from 2015’s ending. The former first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres says that he typically doesn’t set goals entering each season, but he does have two things on his mind going into 2016.
“First, it’s really just to win, win, win,” Burroughs stated. “I think we’re bringing back a lot of the guys from last year, and we know that the team we throw out there is going to be as good as or better than any team in the league. I think we’re going to be a confident group. We’re hopefully going to be playing with each other a little bit longer now.”
He went on to say, “Personally, I just want to stay healthy. I think if I can stay healthy, the numbers or production will be there for myself. I’ve had these little things the last couple of years that kind of took me out four or five weeks. Hopefully I can stay healthy the whole year, contribute, do my part as a veteran teammate and just have fun.”
There is no question that if the Ducks are winning and he remains on the field, Burroughs will be enjoying his time on Long Island this year. It’s hard to imagine any team or any player going a full season without any bumps in the road regarding success or health. However, the Ducks having Burroughs on the roster provides some solace in knowing that even if times are tough, he will still be out there with a smile on his face, cracking jokes and loving life. And his teammates will be smiling too.
Posted on February 19, 2016, in Player Signings and tagged 2016, Atlantic League, Batting Champion, Bridgeport Bluefish, Bryan Sabatella, Caribbean Winter Leagues, Jon Griffin, Long Island Ducks, Major League Baseball, Sean Burroughs, Super Bowl, Welington Dotel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.