Burriss excited about opportunity with Reds

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Saturday marked the final day that second baseman Brandon Phillips would be in Reds camp before departing for Team USA and the World Baseball Classic. His absence opens the door of opportunity for the likes of infielder Emmanuel Burriss, who is trying to make the team as a non-roster player.

"That is good," Burriss said on Saturday. "We're going to get more looks, more at-bats and more playing time. It's the best of both worlds for him and all the infielders here trying to make the team and get ready for the season. However it works out, it works out."

Burriss, 28, is competing with fellow infielders Jason Donald and Cesar Izturis for one of the few bench spots open on the 25-man roster. Already given ample playing time from manager Dusty Baker, he's made the most of it by batting .368 (7-for-19) in eight games, including a 1-for-2 showing in Saturday's 4-0 loss to the White Sox to extend his hitting streak to five games.

"It feels good to be getting a lot of at-bats," Burriss said. "At Spring Training, especially being a non-roster guy, it's kind of hard to get playing time. I think Dusty is doing a good job of getting everybody into games and the at-bats they need to see."

The 33rd overall pick by the Giants in the supplemental first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Burriss batted only .213 in 60 games for San Francisco in 2012 and was left off of the postseason roster as his team claimed the World Series. A .243 career hitter, the majority of his 259 big league games have been at second base, but he's also played third base, shortstop and the outfield. He replaced Todd Frazier at third base on Saturday.

Burriss elected free agency after he refused the Giants' outright assignment. He did not hesitate to sign a Minor League deal with the Reds in November.

"I don't think there was too much to debate about," Burriss said. "I played for Bruce Bochy, the only manager in the Major Leagues I've ever played for, and now I'm going to another manager that has good recognition and a track record. It wouldn't have been smart of me to try and wait for another team. It was a great offer and it's a great organization to come to. Why not move to a great organization from a great organization?"

Burriss also liked returning to Ohio, where he played college baseball for three seasons at Kent State -- about three hours from Cincinnati.

"It's quite a ways away, but it's another thing that's like going home," Burriss said. "I'll be able to go see my old college coaches, go visit my old school and be part of Ohio and be closer to Washington, D.C., where I'm from. It seemed like a good fit. Hopefully, Spring Training goes well so I can keep it a good fit rather than find somewhere else to go play."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.