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Burns takes advantage of his chance


PHOENIX -- Billy Burns wasn't even supposed to be in the lineup Saturday. Coco Crisp was scheduled to take his turn in center field, but then the rain came, and the A's decided it was best to keep the veteran off the wet grass.

So the kid got his chance, and all he did was collect two hits, two stolen bases, two outfield assists and score both of Oakland's runs in a 2-2 tie with the Rangers.

"If he didn't play today, we might have had a little trouble, huh?" manager Bob Melvin said, smiling.

"That was a lot of fun," said Burns. "I got the opportunity to play and wanted to make the best of it."

At this point, the 24-year-old paused and asked reporters, "Do you guys mind if I just untie my cleats? My feet are killing me."

Just as polite as he is fun to watch, Burns is making a quick impression in his first big league camp, following his December trade from the Nationals -- he was named their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year -- that sent Jerry Blevins to Washington.

For all he did Saturday, Burns was most proud of the bunt single he placed down in the fifth inning. Melvin liked his arm.

"I think the throwing was something we didn't expect," the manager said. "He gets in front of it and gets good momentum behind it. He's accurate. So he doesn't look to be overwhelmed by playing against big leaguers."

"That's something the Nationals had me working on this offseason," Burns said. "It's always been a weak area for me, but it's something I'm conscious of. I try to cover some ground and get to the ball faster than most people and try to be as accurate as I possibly can."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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