WINNING SPIRIT: Astros rookie Burke welcomes trying situation

EDITORS’ NOTE: BP Sports columnist Tim Ellsworth was in Florida last week to do a series of stories from spring training as baseball players get ready to begin a new season.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (BP)--Chris Burke has done everything he can to win the Houston Astros’ second base job.

He hit .337 at Triple-A New Orleans last year, with 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases. He’s also had a strong spring, hitting .356 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.

But Burke’s status for Opening Day is still not settled. He hasn’t been sent back to the minors yet, but he also hasn’t been given the job. So while Burke remains in limbo, he’s trying to handle the situation the best he can.

“It’s really hard not to think about it,” Burke said of his status on the team. “Finally I’ve conceded the fact that I’m going to think about it. What I’m trying not to do is worry about it.”

Burke said one passage of Scripture has been especially meaningful this spring: James 1:2-3, which says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

“I’m just thanking the Lord for the opportunity to be in a tough situation and having my faith tested and develop perseverance from that,” Burke said.

Things haven’t quite gone the way Burke was hoping they would, or that many baseball fans expected they would. When the Astros let Jeff Kent leave the team via free agency during the off season, it appeared the second base job was Burke’s to lose.

But during spring training, two other Houston rookies -– outfielders Willy Tavares and Luke Scott –- also have been impressive. Their performance has prompted the Astros to consider moving veteran Craig Biggio from the outfield back to second base, where he used to play. Such a move would create room for both Tavares and Scott to play every day, at least until Houston slugger Lance Berkman returns from the disabled list a few weeks into the season.

If Biggio does start the season as the Astros’ second baseman, Burke may start the year in the minors. So despite Burke’s best performance, the decision is still out of his hands. He has no idea what the future holds for him, but he trusts in the truth of the verses from James.

“If your whole life’s gravy, when is your faith ever really tested?” Burke said. “I’m trying to take the outlook that this is an opportunity for me to develop my character and my faith even stronger through a tough situation.”


Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He writes a weekly column on sports and faith for BP Sports.

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