A.J. Burnett's trick or treat excuse merely variation on theme
A.J. Burnett was late for his own press conference on Monday at Yankee Stadium because he was buying "zombie hands and vampire teeth for the kids" and lost track of the time. Life and baseball are all one large trick or treat these days for the up-and-down righthander with the electric stuff as he prepares to start Game 4 of the ALCS for the Yankees against Tommy Hunter and the Texas Rangers. Should be a Thriller.
It shows the wealth and speaks for the integrity of the Yankees that they chose to keep a man earning $16.5 million each year for the next three seasons out of the Division Series rotation because he was too unreliable. Of course what is Burnett's recourse if unhappy. To opt out of his contract. Not likely. The Yankees have added him to the ALCS rotation because they needed a fourth starter, but every day manager Joe Girardi is bombarded with media questions about whether he has changed his mind or not on A.J.
"To be honest with you," I hear it everywhere," Burnett said when he finally made his date with the media. "But I'm not really paying attention to it. I was told when I was pitching and I was preparing myself to pitch until told otherwise. I know a lot of things have been written. I don't read a lot. I don't dig into it too much, but I do go off with everyday people that I meet at breakfast and lunch and stuff and it's been nothing but positive towards me."
When Girardi was asked for the umpteenth time about whether he could possibly change his mind again if the Yankees were to lose Game 3, he responded.
"We are on rotation is probably the easiest way for me to put it. We all know what A.J. can dial up and we believe in him."
The fact is Burnett at 10-15, with a 5.26 ERA in 33 starts, his worst season since leaving the Marlins as a free agent to join the Jays in 2006. He made five post-season starts last year, with a 1-1 record and a 5.27 ERA, but that was coming off of a better regular season.
"It's easier for me because I've had a rough (year)," Burnett said. "I'm going to feed off what I did last year. I told a few people my seasons have been similar. The only thing is that I have three or four good games towards the end last year where everybody is more confident. But I feel great. I feel like I'm where I need to be."
Tuesday will be Burnett's first game appearance in 17 days, since October 2 vs. the Red Sox. He has lost three straight decisions over six starts since his last win on September 1.