Pat Burrell's job at the moment is to focus on today and today only.
The Phillies have 15 games to play in 2008 and they need to catch fire to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They trail the New York Mets in the National League East and the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card race, and time clearly is not on their side.
It could be Burrell's final 15 games with the Phillies.
"To be honest with you, maybe the last week or so, you can't help but have that thought in the back of your mind about what's going happen," said Burrell, who will be a free agent after the season. "And that's uncertain. I just keep telling myself to go out there and do everything I can to help. You try not to get too caught up in it. Because, ultimately, you can't forget about the task at hand, which are these next 15 games. What can I do to help put us in a position to win?"
Burrell and Jimmy Rollins have spent nine seasons together. That is the second-longest tenure for teammates in the National League behind Atlanta's Chipper Jones and John Smoltz, who have been together for 16 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It shows how rare it is today for teammates to stick together, and how long Burrell and Rollins have been here.
"It seems like a lot longer than that, really, because we kind of grew up in the same area," said Burrell, who signed a six-year, $50 million contract extension before the 2003 season. "We played together when we were younger. I remember when I was in school [at the University of Miami] and he came as a recruit."
Burrell, the first overall pick in the June 1998 draft, and Rollins played together for single-A Clearwater in 1998. They played together for double-A Reading in 1999, and started the season together with triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2000.
The Phillies called up Burrell on May 24, 2000.
Rollins got the call Sept. 17, 2000.
"That's pretty unique," Burrell said. "I've been fortunate. I had a chance to come up with a guy I played with and lived with in college [Jason Michaels]. Most of these guys are still playing. That's pretty cool."
Burrell is hitting .252 with 30 home runs and 77 RBIs this season, but he has hit just .169 with three homers and 10 RBIs since Aug. 5. His recent slide could affect how much the team's next general manager - the early favorites are Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Arbuckle - want him back.
Amaro said recently they wouldn't talk about a contract with Burrell until after the season.
Burrell said he has no hunch about his future with the Phillies.
"The truth is, I look at things and try to be optimistic about everything, with the idea that coming back here would be great," Burrell said. "But you never know. You just have to ride it out and see. It's a complicated deal. I certainly have been here long enough and have seen players come and go. It's been a hell of an experience, and I hope it continues."
Burrell is just the second player in franchise history to have eight consecutive 20-home-run seasons (2000-08). Mike Schmidt had 14 consecutive 20-homer seasons from 1974-87.
Burrell ranks third on the Phillies' all-time home-run list with 248. He needs two more to tie Del Ennis for second place.
He ranks seventh on the all-time RBI list.
But is that production - inconsistent as it has been at times - enough for the Phillies to bring him back?
For the right price and years on a contract, maybe.
"I've certainly enjoyed my time here," Burrell said. "I'm thankful for the opportunities. That goes a long way for me."