Jays' Burns stands tall among veterans

Infielder plates four alongside two Major Leaguers in Dunedin

Andy Burns is 16-for-39 at the plate with 13 RBIs in his last 10 games. (Cliff Welch)

By Brandon Simes / Special to MLB.com | June 17, 2013 8:05 PM ET

A pair of big-name Major Leaguers rehabbed with Class A Advanced Dunedin on Monday, but the star of the game turned out to be a 22-year-old who hit .248 in the Midwest League last year.

Third baseman Andy Burns collected three hits, a stolen base and four RBIs in Dunedin's 6-4 win over Tampa at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Fifth in the Florida State League with a .321 average, Burns has six multi-hit games in his last 10 outings, during which he's hitting .410 (16-for-39). He also has five hits and seven RBIs in the past two games.

The former 11th-round pick credits his success to hard work in the offseason, a quality routine in the cage and batting practice focused on shooting the ball up the middle and better discipline at the plate.

"The second that you need superstition and think that's what controls your day, you're kind of off in the head, in my opinion," he said. "If you've got to do something to make you get hits, you don't trust yourself enough."

Brandon Morrow gave up three runs on five hits and two walks without a strikeout in two innings in the start for Dunedin. The rehabbing right-hander, working his way back from a right forearm strain, has a 5.63 ERA for Toronto in 54 1/3 innings this season.

Jose Reyes, who posted a .395/.465/.526 line in 10 games before heading to the disabled list, singled and scored twice in five innings in his first rehab outing since suffering a severely sprained left ankle April 12 against the Kansas City Royals.

"It's great getting to watch them go about their business, to see how they prepare for the game, what they do and how they've come about success," Burns said. "Reyes is one of the best in the game. It was great getting to play alongside him. We're obviously all striving to get to that level."

Reyes also picked up the postgame spread for his teammates.

"You've got a bunch of Minor League guys that aren't making that type of money yet and it's a nice treat that [rehabbing Major Leaguers] do and it's not needed at all," Burns said. "The fact that they do that is greatly appreciated."

Burns knows about rehabbing. He broke the scaphoid bone in his left hand last year trying to leap over a catcher during a play at the plate. He played with the injury for a couple of weeks before it ended his year.

"That was different, it was the first time I've been hurt and I realized how quickly the game can be taken away from you," he said. "I got healthy, got in there in the weight room and hit as much as I possibly could, and came into Spring Training in great shape."

Burns hasn't let the injury slow him down. In fact, he's running more than ever. He sprinted his way into a bases-clearing triple in the second and stole his 21st base -- fourth-most in the league -- after singling in the fifth. His previous high was 15 in 2012.

"I don't think our manager knew that I could run [last year], so I didn't get the green light until mid-May, but I had the green light from the get-go this season," Burns said. "I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but I'm trying to learn when to run, tendencies in pitchers, and to use all that stuff in making a calculated decision."

As for his fifth triple of the year, Burns said he was "feeling a little frisky" when he made the turn around second.

"Maybe I shouldn't have gone, I don't know, I was feeling all right," he said. "Afterwards I was exhausted -- down in Florida the heat can really get you -- but fortunately I was able to get in there safely."

Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-2) allowed one run on two hits in seven innings to pick up the victory. He struck out six and walked two. Blue Jays second baseman Jon Berti had three hits and scored twice.

Brandon Simes is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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