Pat Burrell hasn't exactly been a stranger since signing a 2-year, $16 million contract with the Rays this offseason, ending his 9-year career in Philadelphia.

The former top draft pick, hitting .240 with one home run in his injury-weakened first season in Tampa Bay, faced his old teammates during spring training and in two preseason exhibition games at Citizens Bank Park, and he returned to Philadelphia to participate in the World Series ring ceremony in early April.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see Burrell in a regular-season game against the team with which he rebuilt his image from inconsistent bust to World Series hero.

"If you'd have asked me 5 years ago if that [world championship] was going to happen, I'd have had to tell you that you were nuts," Burrell told Tampa Bay reporters about the end of his Phillies career. "All the time I've been there, you have the 1980 team come back and you see what they do for those guys and it was unbelievable every time . . . You see that go on and you think, man, we're getting our [butts] booed every night, you know? So it's nice to see both sides of it. I don't think you can appreciate one without the other, and that's a nice feeling."

While Burrell downplayed the significance of the series, he did admit that he was eager to face veteran lefty Jamie Moyer tonight.

"That makes it exciting," Burrell said. "Truthfully I'll be looking forward to it. It should be an exciting game. There's nothing much more to it, just should be an exciting series and I'm looking forward to it." *

- David Murphy