After his second awful start against the Red Sox this season, AJ Burnett vowed to improve:
“Terrible,” Burnett said when asked how he would characterize his season. “There have been glimpses of greatness, but I’m not very consistent right now. I’m not a negative guy, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it. When I do get on that run, it’s going to be impressive. I promise you that.”
In the 8 starts following that one, Burnett is 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA. He has pitched deep into each game, and last night saved a bullpen that was extremely shorthanded. However, when asked about his turnaround, he was anything but satisfied:
Still, asked if this was what he envisioned when he signed there, Burnett let it be known that while stats are nice, his ultimate vision can’t be fulfilled for three more months.
“It’s not over, so it’s not what I had in mind,” Burnett said. “When we get to October, that’s what I had in mind.”
This reiterates what AJ said back in spring training:
For years, Jeter has preached that the season is a failure if you’re not the last team standing.
“I agree with him 100%; that’s why we’re here and why we play this game,” Burnett said.
But is a World Series-or-bust edict more pressure than players need over a 162-game season? Burnett doesn’t think so.
“I think it’s a good mind-set to take to the field with you every day,” he said. “I’ll start thinking that in my preparation now, because I think it’s true. There are 25 guys in here, but we’re not just playing for ourselves. We’re playing for the fans, we’re playing for the city and we’re playing for the world of pinstripes.”
Burnett has really embraced the Yankee mentality while adding a fun stamp of his own to the clubhouse. When he signed, there were doubts about his makeup and ability to handle New York raised by many a writer. However, he has surprisingly taken a leadership position, mentoring Joba and CMW while making himself available to the media on a regular basis. AJ constantly talks about how much he has matured over the last few seasons, and this season has confirmed that notion. He has been a perfect fit for this team, and only his health can prevent him from being a major cog on the Yankees for the duration of his contract.
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