When D.C.-native Emmanuel Burriss signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals, he knew itâ??d be an uphill battle to crack the roster. But the chance to play in front of a Washington home crowd was something Burriss wasnâ??t going to pass up.
A .243 career hitter in the majors, .281 in the minors, Burriss has yet to break out at the plate. Until now.
Since starting the season batting .241 in April, Burrissâ?? average has heated up with the season, batting .270 in May, .337 in June and .385 in July. Now batting .308 on the season, Burriss leads the Chiefs in batting average, OBP (.386), runs (74) and steals (22).
"I've just put in a lot of work. I've been healthy,â?? explained Burriss before Thursday nightâ??s washout against the Red Wings. â??I've always had struggles with my health these past few years but I've been working a lot with my hitting coach Joe Dillon and he's been keeping me on track. We've been going about our business every day. It's been non-stop. This is really the first year that I've really been able to go about my work without having a setback, be it a leg or an arm or a foot. Being healthy is just a big difference."
Through his 5-year tenure with the San Francisco Giants, Burriss would draw nearly 100 personal fans to his appearances against the Nationals as hometown friends and family flocked to Nats Park to see him. Burriss has dreamt of playing for his hometown team since signing with Washington, but for now, the Chiefsâ?? lead-off man is focused on Syracuse.
â??The only thing I can do right now is make sure I'm handling my job on the field,â?? said Burriss. â??They have a great team there, we have a great team here. As long as I'm handling my business here that's really all that I can do."
With both clubs at the top of their respective divisions, each looks primed for a formidable playoff run. As a member of the 2012 World Series Champion Giants, Burriss has seen what it takes for a team to win it all.
And he likes what he sees both in Syracuse and in Washington.
â??For sure with the team here we have exactly what it takes. When it comes to wining close ball gamesâ?| whenever we can make a big push to come back at the end of a game, thatâ??s always a good sign. We get guys on base, our pitching has been lights-out all season and it seems like the Nationals are doing those things too,â?? said Burriss. â??Both teams look great and I hope we both have a lot of success."