CLEARWATER, Fla. - The announcement was made yesterday as Pat Burrell stood in the visiting clubhouse at Bright House Field after checking out of the Tampa Bay Rays' exhibition game against the Phillies.

With a crowd of 10,474 in attendance on a bright, sunny afternoon, the Phillies had set a team record for a Grapefruit League game.

It was further evidence that the Phillies have become one of those special teams that can draw a crowd any time, any place. Burrell, of course, already knows about the Phillies' transformation from afterthought to toast of the town. He got to raise a giant champagne glass during the 2008 parade down Broad Street before leaving for the Rays as a free agent.

After one disappointing season with Tampa Bay, Burrell admitted that he missed the passion that can only be found in a handful of major-league cities.

"I don't know if there is any way of saying this without getting myself in trouble," Burrell said. "But there is definitely a different excitement level [in Philadelphia]. I think more than anything, there is a stronger tradition for baseball there. That goes without saying."

The Rays, even after an American League championship season and World Series loss to the Phillies in 2008, drew just 23,148 fans per game to their drab dome in St. Petersburg in 2009. During two games last September against Baltimore, the Rays drew fewer than the 10,474 that showed up for yesterday's game that did not count.

"You talk to a lot of players and certain players don't like to play in Philly," Burrell said. "Certain guys love it and I was one of the guys that really enjoyed it. I probably saw the full parameter of the good and the bad. But at all times you knew that people cared. They want you to win and they come out and support you. I'm not sure enough players appreciate that because there aren't many places like it. You have Chicago, New York, and places like that, but I think it's the minority."

New surroundings and less ballpark buzz weren't the only adjustments Burrell had to make in his first season away from Philadelphia. He also had to learn how to become a full-time designated hitter and, by his own admission, he didn't do it very well.

He finished the year hitting .221 with a career-low 14 home runs and 64 RBIs. It was his worst season since 2003, when he hit just .209 with the Phillies after signing a six-year contract extension.

Burrell, 33, played just two games in the field last season for the Rays and would like a chance to do it more in 2010, but that's not likely to happen. After being announced as the starting rightfielder before yesterday's game, Burrell actually played in left field. He said the plan was to get him reacquainted with left field - his position with the Phillies - before giving him a shot in right.

After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon made it clear that DH would continue to be Burrell's primary role in 2010.

"In the big picture, I'm here as a player and what they call upon me to do, I do," Burrell said. "I want to create as many options for them as I can if playing the outfield is an option. If it's not, it's not. It comes down to committing to the role and I know what to expect.

"When you realize how much time there can be between at-bats sometimes, you have to find a way to fill that time and still stay up to speed with the game. It doesn't sound that difficult, but it can be at times."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he'd be surprised if Burrell wasn't better in his second season with the Rays.

"You have to find a way to stay busy and stay loose as the DH," Manuel said. "That was all new to him and I think that played a part in Pat's year. I still think Pat is a very productive hitter. He's a better hitter than the year he had last year. I totally believe that. Pat Burrell is a .275 hitter who can hit you 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs."

Manuel's batting average estimate is generous, but in his last eight seasons with the Phillies, Burrell averaged 29.1 home runs and 93.5 RBIs per season. Now he has to prove he can do it in a role where no glove is needed.

"He has to always be swinging," Manuel said. "He has to always be prepared to hit. That will relieve some of the difficulty of remembering the last at-bat. You just have to look forward to hitting all day."