The popular conspiracy theory is Dave Eiland’s absence caused A.J. Burnett’s steep decline in June.

Eiland returned yesterday from attending to an undisclosed personal matter and the Yankees’ pitching coach quickly refuted that suggestion.

“For me to sit here and say the reason A.J. pitched like this while I wasn’t here, it’s not fair,” Eiland said. “A.J’s been pitching a long time, and he knows what he needs to do.”


Well, maybe not. Burnett is 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA in five starts during Eiland’s absence. The inconsistent righty gave up five first-inning runs to the Diamondbacks on June 21, followed by a six-run, three-inning outing at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s simple things. Every pitcher you have to stay on about certain things and with A.J. there’s a couple of things ... very minor things that going to make a huge difference,” Eiland said.

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