‘Good A.J.’ prevails in the end

That guy who walked to the mound for the bottom of the first inning here in Clearwater, Fla.? Yeah, that was ‘Bad A.J.’ He was gone by the second inning, replaced by ‘Good A.J.’

After the Phillies raked A.J. Burnett for a five-spot early, banging everything hard – including a two-run Placido Polanco homer – the Yankees’ No. 2 starter started to settle in and salvaged what was left of his four-inning outing against the National League champs.
“They swung early,” Burnett said. “I attacked and established early, and they swung early. If you’re going to get me, get me early and get me now.”

Admitting he could have been sharper, the one thing Burnett was happy to take from this start was his continued trust in the changeup, which he’s tooling with more and more. It got hit here and there, but Burnett kept throwing it, and in fact, he told catcher Francisco Cervelli to call it in odd counts. 

Burnett finished just a balk shy of a Spring Training rarity (and something I’d never heard of before I came on this beat) – a pitching line Yahtzee, where every category gets filled in. Check it:

Burnett 4 7 5 5 3 4 1 1 1 0

The hit batter prompted someone in this press box to sing, “I left my fastball … in Ben Francisco.” The wild pitch was actually pretty comical too, firing all the way to the backstop like something out of Nuke LaLoosh’s repertoire.

Burnett had the right pitch, a fastball, but he missed Cervelli’s location and was shocked to see him set up in a different spot when he looked back at home plate halfway through his delivery .
“I should have just thrown it,” Burnett said. “My fault. A quick little flash of ignorance. But it went all the way back there, didn’t it?”

  • Jamie Hoffmann’s heading back to the Dodgers, and that’s good news for Marcus Thames. Joe Girardi said recently that it was mostly between Hoffmann and Thames for the 25th man spot, a right-handed hitting outfielder off the bench. While he wouldn’t say it since Greg Golson and David Winfree are still in camp, that competition seems closed.
  • The Yankees sent infielders Reegie Corona, Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez and Jorge Vazquez to Minor League camp after Monday’s game. The Yankees now have 39 players remaining in big league camp.
  • Joe Girardi on Phil Hughes’ outing: “A lot better than what the scoreboard shows. His changeup was great today, that’s the best changeup he’s had. I know you’re going to see the line score and four runs, but I thought he threw the ball a lot better than those four runs. I thought it was the best stuff he’s had.” 
  • Phil Hughes on his spring: “I feel like I’ve worked hard to get myself to this point where I can be a successful starter. I feel like my changeup has come a long way, and if I go to the bullpen or Triple-A, I feel like that’s another big weapon for me and I’ll be able to use it. I’ve kind of learned around here just to roll with the punches. What you say isn’t going to affect anything. You just have to go out and do the best you can, and see what decisions come from it.”
  • Joba Chamberlain on having to pitch in that intrasquad game: “It doesn’t matter who you’re facing. These guys are here for a reason. These guys are still in camp for a reason. I’ll put these guys against their lineup so you can’t approach it any different if you’re facing Jimmy Rollins or Greg Golson. They’re still here for a reason.”


In camp and healthy so far after that early back issue. He played Saturday @ Kissimmee and went 0-for-1 with two walks & a run scored.


Where is that big stiff, iron horse, Nick Johnson?? Does he have more a*# aches limiting his play? This stiff, will the Yankees even get 150 at bats without him breaking bones, tweaking back, stubbing toes or just walking and breathing causing injuries? Where is he??


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