Just as parents unlock life's secrets for their children by sharing personal experiences, Burriss demystified big league camp for Ford, Neal and others by recounting not-so-long-ago incidents.
"I'd relax them, tell them little stories about things that I went through and that I saw other young guys go through," Burriss said.Burriss relies on a proactive approach. He said, "I'll see something or something will be brought to my attention. Instead of just letting it slide, I pull them aside and talk them through it so they don't make those mistakes again." By contrast, Burriss said when he was a rookie, he repeated certain gaffes "because I just didn't know any better." Burriss eventually heard from a veteran or two.
"But it took a while," he said. "After maybe my third time of making the same mistake, it had to be addressed."Burriss enlightens rookies on Major League customs both on and off the field. Some subjects are predictable, such as how to properly execute particular drills, what to watch for in games and how to behave in the clubhouse. He also has covered practical topics, including where to park at the Scottsdale Stadium complex and what to wear to the ballpark. Giants newbies are inevitably curious about and even intimidated by Mike Murphy, the team's longtime clubhouse manager. So Burriss lets them know all about the man he called "Uncle Murph." "He's a Hall of Fame clubhouse guy. A lot of guys feel uncomfortable with that," Burriss said. "Sometimes I'll just ask for stuff for them because they feel super-uncomfortable." The most essential piece of advice Burriss offers is that rookies should be seen and not heard. "I do remind them to keep their mouth shut as much as possible," he said. "That's probably the biggest thing." From some players, this can sound like a harsh message. From Burriss, it's well-intentioned. "They know that I'm not saying it intimidatingly," he said. "I'm saying it in a friendly way -- 'I'm still young; I'm still in it with you guys.'"
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.