A.J. Burnett Looking to Contribute More Than Just Whipped Cream Celebrations
A.J. Burnett has already started changing opinions and proving he still has what it takes after only two innings.
Burnett threw 21 pitches in two innings, 15 of which were strikes. Burnett allowed only two hits, striking out one and getting a timely double play in the second.
I know 21 pitches in spring training doesn't mean a whole lot, but when you had a season like Burnett did last year, anything positive is seen as a major step.
Speaking of steps, Burnett has tweaked his delivery, now making sure he is stepping toward home plate. He simplified his motion, making it easier for him to replicate his windup for every single pitch.
This seemed almost obvious after last year, when Burnett seemed to pitch better from the stretch as opposed to the full windup; Michael Kay even noted this in one game, suggesting A.J. should just go from the stretch all the time.
Sure, Kay was making a joke, but it was the correct idea: A.J. needed to simplify his windup and motion, and that's what he did.
A.J. noted in his postgame interview with Kimberly Jones that he didn't do a whole lot for the Yankees last year and that he is, and needs to be, a big part of this team.
He is taking steps, even if they are small steps, in the right direction, and that direction is towards the front-end of the rotation. A guy with A.J.'s talent and determination probably doesn't like getting written off after one poor season in New York, I'm sure he also doesn't like being notched in the third spot in the rotation (no disrespect to Phil Hughes).
A.J, has also said he likes Larry Rothschild, saying Larry is old-school and that A.J. himself may be a little old-school as well.
I said it in my earliest articles for Bleacher Report, expect A.J. to bounce back.
He has the stuff to be among the top pitchers in baseball and this year, he has a little chip on his shoulder.
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