A.J. Burnett walked into Pirates spring training with a new outlook on life Monday. One that sounded a whole lot like he didn't enjoy his time in New York.
Burnett, who was traded to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers and $20 million of the $33 million left on his deal, never admitted to being uncomfortable while he was with the Yankees. But he was perhaps a bit more honest in Pirates camp on the first day.
"It's going to be a fresh start," Burnett told reporters at camp Monday. "It's going to be fun.
I'm going back to the National League, where I can hit and bunt and get
the joy back into the game."
Burnett also intimated, though didn't outwardly criticize, the Yankees had made too many tweaks to his pitching motion in his three years in the Bronx. Dave Eiland, the Yankees' pitching coach in Burnett's first two seasons, did repeatedly make efforts to tinker with Burnett's mechanics.
"I let a few too many people tinker with me, maybe," Burnett said. "When
you let that happen, you start doubting yourself sometimes. In '09, nobody messed with me."
In 2009, of course, Burnett had his best season with the Yankees. He went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 33 starts. The next two seasons he posted ERAs of 5.26 and 5.15 respectively.
Burnett moves into a Pittsburgh rotation where he could be the team's No. 1 starter. As of now their rotation includes former Yankee prospect Jeff Karstens, James MacDonald, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton. Those four pitchers have a combined record of 98-106 in their careers. They also signed the oft-injured Erik Bedard, who made just eight starts in Boston in 2011.