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Sweeny Says: Burnett Is Key For Yankees

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New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett throws the ball in the outfield during baseball spring training Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett throws the ball in the outfield during baseball spring training Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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By Sweeny Murti
» More Columns

The key to the whole Yankee rotation is Allan James Burnett. And he realizes it, too. A talented pitcher without the resume to go with it, Burnett said Tuesday that he realized for the first time how important he really is to the team’s success, how much they rely on him.

With no idea who the Yanks’ 4th and 5th starters are at this point, much more falls on Burnett to stabilize the Yankees until whoever takes those last two spots do their part. Championship teams can still be built with average starters at the back of the rotation. They just need more help at the top, and its safe to say that more of the burden falls on Burnett this year than in his previous two years with the Yankees.

RELATED: Sweeny: Yankees Fans — Remain Calm! | Good A.J.: Yankees’ Burnett Knows He Has To Improve | Keefe To The City: Chat With Sweeny Murti | Audio: Sweeny Murti & Brian Cashman | Suzyn Waldman

Here is Burnett speaking to reporters Tuesday morning before the first official workout. It was around 8:45am and Burnett was dripping with sweat, having just come back from an early mound session. There is optimism in his voice. He doesn’t try to spin anything about his 2010 season. He speaks well of his early work with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, and goes out of his way to make sure former pitching coach Dave Eiland doesn’t take unnecessary blame for last season.

LISTEN: A.J. before working out on Tuesday, part 1

LISTEN: A.J. before working out on Tuesday, part 2

Other notes from Tuesday morning:

*Joba Chamberlain told me he is definitely heavier than last year, although he doesn’t know exactly how much he weighs. Joba said that most of his weight gain is muscle in his legs, not his upper body. He has been throwing regularly since November and has already thrown nearly a dozen bullpen mound sessions. Joba also mentioned that his regimen has been tailored specifically for his bullpen role, coming into spring training for the first time ever knowing that is his permanent role.

*Jorge Posada said that although he has been the DH before that it’s still an uncomfortable role because “it’s like pinch-hitting four times a game.” He said he will try different things to stay warm and loose during the game, perhaps even doing some catching drills in the cage as Joe Girardi suggested to him. One person Posada wants to speak with is Edgar Martinez. Not a bad idea considering he is one of the best DH’s ever.

*I saw all three Killer B’s this morning (Andrew Brackman, Delin Betances, and Manny Banuelos). They come in all shapes and sizes. Brackman (6’10”) and Betances (6’8”) look like a front line the Knicks would have trouble with, Brackman long & lean and Betances clogging up the lane. Banuelos is built more like a point guard (5’10”), but is said to be the best of the bunch.

*One pitcher to keep an eye on this spring outside of the Killer B’s is Adam Warren, a 23-year old. Scouts from opposing organizations raved about him this winter. Warren was clocked in the low 90’s with sink, dialing it up a bit when needed and struck out better than a batter per inning in 10 starts at AA-Trenton.

*For those who care, Francisco Cervelli switched to #17 after Rafael Soriano snagged #29. Andruw Jones officially signed Monday and will wear #18.

Sweeny Murti
Yankees@wfan.com
www.twitter.com/YankeesWFAN

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