Burnett, Girardi exchange words after another dismal effort

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Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett was pulled from Saturday evening’s 9-4 loss to the Twins after allowing five hits, three walks and seven earned runs in less than two innings of work. A normal major league starter would hang his head after such an effort and find a spot near the end of the dugout bench to soak in the rest of the game. Not Burnett.

After handing the ball off to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Burnett delivered a curse word (bullsh–) over his shoulder and headed directly into the visitor’s clubhouse at Minnesota’s Target Field. Girardi later followed him down the steps, presumably to ask Burnett what exactly he considered to be “bullsh–.”

Girardi played down the incident in his postgame press conference and actually took offense to the media’s interest in his relationship with Burnett. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has the quotes:

“You can write what you want, you can say what you want, but he was pissed because he thought he struck out Joe Mauer (on a called ball four; it was Burnett’s last batter),” Girardi said. “I asked if they thought it was a strike and the guys said they thought it was a strike.”

“This is silly; this is really, really silly. You know what? We had a fistfight, is what we had,” Girardi continued, sarcastically. “I came in and looked at the pitch. Our video room is right down there. Everyone always seems to want to blow it up about A.J., A.J., A.J.; nothing happened between me and A.J.; I went and looked at the pitch.”

Girardi is right for defending his player, and is right to want to keep his interpersonal relationships out of the media, but does Burnett really deserve such gentle treatment? The 34-year-old has surrendered 21 runs and 35 hits in his last 17 2/3 innings, yet has the audacity to show up his manager when lifted from a poor outing.
Burnett will earn $16.5 million annually through the end of 2013 and carries a 10-team no-trade clause.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.