Miami Marlins finally have a slugger

Jake Burger He hit a three-run homer on his 28th birthday, a rally by All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman that lifted the Marlins over the New York Yankees 5-2 on Wednesday night for their second win this season. Burger leads Miami with three home runs and 15 RBIs, reviving a career that was cut short for nearly four years due to a foot injury and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I definitely had several nights where, like, 'I'm done. I'm quitting,'” he recalled.

Burger said a turning point was a 2019 conversation with his mother, Shannon, at a What Wich in St. Louis followed by a heart-to-heart at his home in suburban Chesterfield, Missouri, with his father, Mike.

“Fortunately, my parents had a more level head than me and they ended up talking about me, saying, 'Don't regret anything in life and if you quit, you're going to regret it,'” Burger said. “So I'm grateful for them. They're an important part of history and an important part of me is where I am today.”

Obtained from the Chicago White Sox last summer, Burger is one of the few bright spots on a team that is a major league-worst 2-11.

Burger already had a memorable game this year. He hit Lance Lynn twice last Thursday during his first major league appearance in his hometown of St. Louis, where growing up he went to about 20 games a year dating back to the old Busch Stadium. He sat under the new stadium's Big Mac Land in left field with Little League friend Kyle Kinner and watched the Cardinals in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings to beat Texas in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series on the way to the title.

Burger's parents were at last week's game along with his sister Ellie, his wife Ashlyn, their 16-month-old son Brooks and his grandfather Terry.

“That was really special,” Burger said. “First time playing in front of my grandfather live. He watches all the games, and he's a big supporter and role model for me.”

Overlooked in the Christian Brothers College High School amateur draft, Burger went to Missouri State and was selected with the 11th overall pick in 2017 by the White Sox, who signed him to a $3.7 million bonus.

He was invited to Major League spring training the following year and broke his Achilles' run to first base in a late-inning scramble against Oakland's Santiago Castillo during an exhibition game on February 26, 2018. Ten weeks After surgery, Burger was cleared to wear sandals and reattach the tendon while stepping out of a sandal in the backyard of his Arizona home.

Burger missed the 2019 season due to the heel injury.

“I don't feel like I've given it enough time, I've kind of backed off a little too quickly,” he said.

Then there was no 2020 minor league season due to the coronavirus pandemic. He instead played on a summer team in the Missouri CarShield Collegiate League.

Burger finally resumed his career at Triple-A Charlotte on May 4, 2021, his first regular season game in 1,339 days. He hit .322 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in 42 games, earning a call-up and his major league debut on July 2 at Detroit, where he singled and doubled on a 2-for-4 night.

He was optioned in late July, then had two call-ups in 2022 and two more in 2023. He was hitting .214 with 25 home runs, 52 RBIs and 102 strikeouts in 294 at-bats for the White Sox at the time of the August 1 trade. which sent pitching prospect Jake Eder to Chicago.

Burger hit .303 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 53 games with Miami. He has batted third in the order 10 times this year, batting 1st and 5th twice, seeing time at third base and first.

“It's his first real full season in the big leagues and we're putting a lot on his plate with the middle of the order and playing every day, and he's doing a really good job,” Marlins coach Skip Schumaker said. “He's a smart boy.”

Schumaker credited Burger's work to coaches John Mabry and Brant Brown last year and Bill Mueller and Jason Hart this season.

“He's a better hitter than a power hitter, and he's showing how good he is here,” Schumaker said.

When Burger arrived in Miami last summer, the Marlins offered $5 hamburgers to fans in their first game against Philadelphia, similar to a promotion he recalled at Missouri State.

“The Marlins organization and the fans and the city of Miami welcomed me and my family,” Burger said. “The guys at this club accepted us with open arms and made the transition much easier.”