Burroughs tries to revive career

Out of professional baseball for nearly four years, Sean Burroughs is attempting a comeback with the Diamondbacks.

The 30-year-old former first-round draft pick is batting .395 (15-for-38) with one home run and seven RBIs in 17 games for Reno, Arizona’s Triple-A affiliate, after going 1-for-4 Wednesday in its 4-3 loss to the 51s at Cashman Field.

Burroughs, who was released in 2007 after playing four games for Tacoma, was living in Southern Highlands at this time last year when he decided to try to resurrect his career.

“I kind of took a step back and looked at where my life was at and what I could’ve done,” said Burroughs, a .280 batter in 440 major league games. “I started feeling really good physically. That was No. 1 for me. I figured I was not young, not old, but right in the middle.

“I didn’t have many positive things going on in my life, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had a lot of friends and family back me and say, ‘Give it one more shot.’ ”

After living here for less than a year with his then-girlfriend, Burroughs — who had ballooned well above his current weight of 219 pounds — left Las Vegas for his native California, where he worked himself back into shape.

“I came out here and wanted to start something, but I didn’t know what,” he said. “Las Vegas is fun, I love coming here, but living here with no family and no friends, I kind of got stuck. It wasn’t for me.”

In November, Burroughs tried out for several teams and signed a minor league deal with Arizona, whose general manager, Kevin Towers, worked for the San Diego Padres when he drafted Burroughs ninth overall in 1998.

“Kevin Towers gave me an opportunity to come in and make an impression,” said Burroughs, the son of former American League Most Valuable Player Jeff Burroughs. “I felt I had a pretty good spring and everything’s kind of falling into place.”

Aces manager Brett Butler said he’s been pleasantly surprised with Burroughs’ comeback attempt.

“You’re always looking for a second chance to get back in, especially when you’ve tasted the victories of the big leagues,” he said. “After being out for three years, I can tip my hat to the fact he’s really worked hard and … is swinging the bat well and playing some pretty solid third base. I’m surprised, so it’s good.”

Burroughs, who was 5 feet 5 inches and 170 pounds when he was 11, led Long Beach (Calif.) to two straight Little League World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

He grew into a 6-1 third baseman who was named the Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year in 2001 with Portland and made his major league debut with the Padres in 2002.

Burroughs had strong seasons for San Diego in 2003 and 2004, when he batted .298. But his average dipped to .250 in 2005, when the Padres traded him to the Rays.

Hampered by injuries, Burroughs hit .190 (4-for-21) for Tampa Bay in eight games in 2006 and was released.

“I kind of got in the dumps after I got sent down and got traded, and I blamed everyone else but myself,” he said. “It’s one thing I do regret, but I can’t go back in time and change that. I’ve learned to accept it.”

Burroughs, who never developed into the power hitter the Padres wanted, said injuries were only part of his problem.

“I was living a pretty hectic lifestyle off the field,” he said. “I just didn’t really have the drive.

“I took everything for granted. I wasn’t making healthy decisions, and it backfired on me.”

Burroughs has vowed to do things differently this time.

“I just don’t want to let anyone down. I want to come prepared day in and day out ready to play,” he said. “I don’t want to leave this game ever again saying ‘What if?” because I went through that before.”

■ NOTE — Butler was suspended by the PCL for two games for bumping an umpire Tuesday while arguing balls and strikes.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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