'Worst Day Of My Career.' Brock Burke Back In Texas Rangers Bullpen After Breaking Hand In Frustration

Texas Rangers left-hander Brock Burke is back in the bullpen after missing the past two months with a broken non-throwing hand. Burke punched a clubhouse door after a rough outing at Houston's Minute Maid Park.
Apr 1, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Texas Rangers relief pitcher Brock Burke (46) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Brock Burke (46) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Brock Burke was back in the Texas Rangers clubhouse and in the bullpen for Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Two months ago to the day, Burke left the mound after a frustrating appearance at Minute Maid Park and punched a door leading to the team's clubhouse.

He broke his non-throwing right hand and was on the injured list until Wednesday. Burke, 27, was embarrassed by his performance that night and absolutely humiliated for letting his frustrations get the best of him.

To make room for Burke, Grant Anderson was optioned back to Triple-A Round Rock and Derek Hill was outrighted.

"Frustrated, embarrassed, probably a whole combination of emotions," Burke said. "Probably was the worst day of my career, whether it be the outing and then the outcome after breaking my hand and realizing what I had just done."

Burke knew immediately that he went too far. Part of his right pinky was missing from his hand, for starters. If he was lucky, he was just headed to the IL and not the waiver wire.

"What have I done to the team, more importantly," he wondered. "It's been a long time to let things culminate. Hopefully, I can try to pick up and be better for the team."

Part of that includes getting back to the type of pitcher he was in 2022 when he had a 1.97 ERA in 82 1/3 innings. Burke relied on his fastball too much in 2023 and before the injury this season.

"I'm trying to get back to being a pitcher rather than a thrower," he said. "I get myself in trouble and just want to throw a fastball as hard as I can every single time, and I think hitters started to pick up on that and start to hit the crap out of my fastball."

He's used the past two months to get comfortable with his offspeed pitches, and using them in more frequently to get hitters away from sitting on his fastball.

"I didn't want to get beat with anything but my best pitch and sometimes you just can't do that. You've got to mix it up to get them off your best pitch," he said. "So I feel like it was one of those things that started to mix it up. I've been doing that a lot better recently. And that's kind of what I was doing in 2022."

So his blowup in Houston on April 12 wasn't only about that outing, in which he allowed four runs on three hits, including a two-run homer to the Astros' Kyle Tucker, who gave Burke a bat flip despite the Astros still trailing 12-5 at the time.

"It was just a culmination of that and not finishing my inning and all those things kind of coming together and I just kind of got frustrated at let my anger get the best of me for a millisecond," he said. "That's all it took. I threw my glove at the door, which opened the door. So it was swinging open towards me. And I knew right away, I looked down my pinky bone was missing."

He made calls to manage Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Mike Maddux to makes sure they knew he knew the error of his ways.

"He understands that was not the smartest thing to do, and you know we all make mistakes, and it cost him some time," Bochy said.

Burke knows his manager and coaches were not happy.

"I was unhappy with myself. I deserved every every bit of it," he said. "But sometimes you've got to look at the bright side of things. And say, 'Hey, I'm going to get two months to go try to figure out what the hell I'm doing wrong. Because I've been hit or miss the last eight months of my career. I just wanted to make sure that whenever I did come back if they gave me a chance, that I could be good again."

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Stefan Stevenson

STEFAN STEVENSON

Stefan Stevenson worked as a journalist and editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 25 years, covering sports, concerts, and general news. His beats have included the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, and Texas Christian University football.