Texas Rangers

Rangers’ Burke searching for right words after family of ex-Rays roommate was murdered

Brock Burke on sparkling MLB debut: ‘It felt nice’

Texas Rangers left-hander Brock Burke held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on four hits over six innings in his MLB debut Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
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Texas Rangers left-hander Brock Burke held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on four hits over six innings in his MLB debut Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.

The right words eventually will come to Brock Burke, but right now they are escaping him.

No one can blame the Texas Rangers rookie, and he’s not the only one in the baseball family of Tampa Bay Rays minor-leaguer Blake Bivens at a loss for what to say.

What does a person, even a former roommate like Burke, say to a friend who just lost his wife, infant son and mother-in-law in a horrific triple murder allegedly carried out by his brother-in-law?

That’s the reality Burke woke to Tuesday morning, when news started to spread that Bivens’ family was gone. Only a day earlier he had exchanged SnapChat messages with Bivens and other former teammates in the Rays organization.

Bivens was days away from a reunion with his wife, Emily, and son, Cullen. They were to fly from their home in Virginia to Montgomery, Alabama, the home of Tampa Bay’s Double A team, to meet Bivens and then make the drive home after the Biscuits’ season ended next week.

Bivens had planned a trip to an aquarium in Montgomery. Kids love fish.

“It’s pretty tough news to hear, about the worst news possible,” Burke said. “It’s just about his whole family. I couldn’t fathom what happened. I still haven’t wrapped my head around it.”

The Rangers played a late game Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels before returning home for a short four-game homestand against the Seattle Mariners. Burke, who has allowed one run in 12 innings to open his MLB career, is scheduled to pitch Saturday.

He took to Twitter on Tuesday in a show of support from Bivens.

“In utter shock and disbelief,” Burke wrote. “Such a terrible thing to happen to one of the nicest guys I’ve met in baseball. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.”

Police in Keeling, Virginia, were called to a home around 8 a.m. after a neighbor reported gun shots, and three bodies were found. The police eventually located 18-year-old Matthew Bernard, who was captured on video naked and running about town attacking people.

He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Police declined to identify the victims, but the Rays and Biscuits released statements explaining the tragedy. The Biscuits canceled a doubleheader Tuesday night.

“The video was tough to watch,” Burke said.

Burke, a left-hander, was the Rays’ third-round pick in 2014, and they selected Bivens in the next round. Burke said that he and Bivens were teammates for two seasons and in extended spring training.

They were teammates as recently as last season at Montgomery, along with Rangers rookie second baseman Nick Solak.

“I’ve known the past five years,” Burke said. “I played with him just about every level. I’m really good buddies with him.”

That’s what has made the past two days even harder. Burke wants to call his friend, but the words aren’t there yet.

“I wouldn’t even know where to start with what to say,” Burke said. “I figured I’d give him a little bit of time and see how he handles it. I’m sure he’s hearing a lot from a lot of people.

“I’ve been talking with a lot of guys we both played with, and they’re wondering the same thing. We said we’ll leave him alone for a little bit and just pray for him.”

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