The Yankees disliked seeing A.J. Burnett so much, late in the 2008 season, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon were among those who pulled general manager Brian Cashman aside and lobbied to open the wallets and make sure the right-hander landed in the Bronx after electing free agency.
Flash forward to June 2010, and Burnett says he’s not sure who he is right now. He isn’t comfortable pitching out of the windup, his pitches aren’t hitting their spots, and his confidence seems to be fading quickly.
“It comes down to,” Burnett said, “remembering what it feels like to succeed.”
It is impossible not to wonder if pitching coach Dave Eiland’s excused absence is beginning to show up in Burnett’s results. No offense to Mike Harkey, who is trying to fill in, but no one knows the ins and outs of the Yankees’ starters like Eiland — as pitchers have raved, he can pick up on the smallest hitches on video and deliver those changes in the four-day span between starts.
“You can’t put it on one person,” Joe Girardi said. “Obviously we miss Dave, but to put your finger on exactly what it is, all of us have been here with [Burnett]. We understand what he needs to do. He needs to get it done.”