A's outfielder learning from Hall of Fame speedster in spring camp
By William Boor
MESA, Ariz. -- Billy Burns led all rookies, as well as the entire A's team, in stolen bases last season, but this week he's far from the most prolific basestealer wearing the green and gold.
Rickey Henderson, baseball's all-time stolen-base leader, is in A's camp as a guest instructor. Henderson, who arrived at Hohokam Stadium on Sunday, will be with the A's for eight days.
"It's really a blessing just to have him around," said Burns, who stole a base, had two hits and drove in two runs in Monday night's 10-3 victory over the Giants. "A guy like me, I learn a ton from him. We're always talking about different aspects of the game that he was awesome at and I just kind of learn from him."
And there's plenty to learn from the man who stole 1,406 bases in his career, swiped 100 or more bags in a season three times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
"He was just so good, so I just sit there and listen," Burns said. "He'll talk to me for hours and probably has a bunch of knowledge that he can give me that he hasn't even unleashed yet. He has a bunch of knowledge and I'm just learning."
While Burns still has plenty to learn, his early accomplishments are impressive. In the Minors, Burns stole a whopping 74 bases in 2013 and 54 in 2014.
"There's a lot he can still do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "As good a year as he had last year, there's a lot of things that he can improve on and continues to work on this spring."
Henderson has noticed improvement in Burns' game, but knows the young outfielder is still far from a finished product.
"I see a little bit of improvement, but I still think he should be able to get better," Henderson said Sunday.
Burns, who hit .294 with 26 stolen bases in 125 games as a rookie last season, agrees.
"I'm always developing," Burns said. "I'm always trying to learn and grow, so this year is no different. I'm trying to earn a spot; there's always someone out there trying to win the same spot I am. I'm just growing and developing. Any way I can do that, I'm going to try to work at it and try to get better."
And the A's believe he will.
"He's still a young player," Melvin said. "With as good a year as he had last year, we feel like he can get a lot better."
William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.