A.J. offers the ball, accepts the blame
Joe Girardi wasn’t expecting A.J. Burnett to be pleased to see his manager coming to the mound to retrieve the baseball in the bottom of the third inning on Tuesday, and the right-hander certainly was not. Burnett planted the ball in Girardi’s hand and stalked off the mound, his intentions set upon taking frustrations out on the water cooler.
There were questions after the game if Burnett had been somehow disrespectful in handling his departure from the game, not waiting on the mound and appearing to avoid looking Girardi in the face as he exited. But Girardi said that he learned from his days wearing shin guards that you don’t expect pitchers who have just been rocked to have the best etiquette.
“He handed [the ball] to me,” Girardi said. “The one thing I’ve always accepted in being a catcher is I don’t ever judge a guy in the heat of the moment. I don’t. I had pitchers scream at me, I had pitchers tell me to [get lost] at times. I had pitchers who didn’t want to talk to me at times. It’s the competitiveness in him.
“I don’t expect him to bow and say, ‘Thank you for giving me the ball.’ I don’t have a problem with that. now, if it happens the next day, then there’s an issue. But there’s feelings in this game, there’s emotions in this game. I had them when I played. When I had a terrible at-bat, I didn’t want somebody to slap me on the rear end and say, ‘Nice job.’ So I understand that.”
It was the fourth time in Burnett’s career that he has gone 2 2/3 innings or less, and his shortest since lasting only two frames in a 10-9 loss with the Blue Jays at Detroit on April 4, 2007. It also marked Burnett’s first career loss against the Red Sox.
Burnett reflected on his outing after the game, saying, “It’s disappointing to everybody. I think the toughest thing is you come out of a game like that and you’ve got to look all of those guys in the face when you come in. That’s a feeling you don’t want to have.”
Asked if that was why he went after an inanimate object with such vigor, Burnett said, “I’m not the first person to kick over a water cooler.”
Summing up his first 12 starts as a Yankee (4-3, 4.89 ERA) after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal, Burnett said that he has been “terrible.”
“I had glimpses of greatness, but I’m not very consistent right now,” he said. “I’m not a negative guy, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it. But when I do get on that run, it’s going to be impressive. I promise you that.”