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Burks crosses fingers that guest role will evolve

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Former star Rockies outfielder Ellis Burks joined the team for Spring Training workouts on Monday as a special instructor, and Burks said he hopes it can evolve into a regular role with the organization.

Burks' 1996 season with the Rockies was one for the ages, when he led the league in slugging percentage at .639 and runs scored at 142, and finished third in National League Most Valuable Player balloting. He served as a special assistant with the Indians for four years, and he has served as a guest instructor in the Reds' camp.

Burks appeared at Rockies Fest this winter and has stayed in touch with the front office and manager Walt Weiss.

"I'd like to look at it as more than just a trial basis," Burks said. "I'd like to be back in the organization. I had so much fun in Denver with the Rockies, and to be affiliated with them would be great."

It's a continuation of the team's effort under Weiss, who played with the Rockies during his career, to reach out to players who were part of the early Rockies teams that were successful. Weiss himself was a special assistant at one point.

Pitcher Pedro Astacio, who worked with the team's pitchers last spring and on some occasions during road trips, also joined the squad on Friday. Eric Young served as a special instructor last spring and now is full-time as first base coach, and Vinny Castilla has spent years as a special assistant.

Rockies owner/chairman/CEO Dick Monfort said 1997 MVP and one of the Rockies' greatest stars, former outfielder Larry Walker, also will join the Rockies as a special instructor during Spring Training.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
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