NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – A.J. Burnett knows he had a bad season for the Yankees last year. New York’s right-hander wants to put 2010 in the rear-view mirror.
“Last year it really hit me how important I am to this team,” Burnett said Monday. “I never knew how important I was to a team. That’s not being cocky or arrogant, it’s the way it is. I mean, what did I do to help?”
Burnett is coming off a disappointing season in which he went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA in 33 starts, including 4-13 with a 6.48 ERA over the final four months and 1-7 from Aug. 1 on.
“I am not saying that we didn’t win the World Series because of me, but I know if I had been right, it would have been a lot easier chore,” he added.
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Last year, Burnett had the third-highest ERA among 92 qualifying pitchers in the major leagues, topped only by Kansas City’s Kyle Davies (5.34) and Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman (5.53).
“I get it,” said the right-hander. “I know that 2009 was the good part and last year was the complete opposite.”
New pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been working with Burnett on fixing his mechanics, a flaw with the righty’s leg that has a negative effect on his fastball.
“My leg should be going down, not swinging,” said Burnett. “I have to make sure it’s going down.”
The Yankees have two open rotation spots behind CC Sabathia, Burnett and Phil Hughes. The trio of returning starters are being counted on to help pick up the slack following the offseason retirement of Andy Pettitte.
“I have seen what he can do and I know his heart,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I know how disappointed he was with some of his starts last year. I saw how it affected him. I saw how much he wants it.”
Girardi thinks Burnett is in for a solid 2011 season.
“He has made adjustments with Larry Rothschild already. I know how much A.J. cares about this organization, and he cares about the teammates in that room. I have a feeling in my gut that he is going to have a good season.”
Will we see “Good A.J.” this season? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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