Sample sizes are always small in spring training, and it’s impossible to draw any real conclusions from A.J. Burnett’s 21-pitch debut this afternoon. But as a first step toward building confidence and putting mechanical changes to work, it was a positive.
“You have to have confidence in yourself and believe no matter what,” Burnett said. “Taking it pitch by pitch and not questioning every little thing you do out there goes with confidence. Get the ball back and throw it to Cervelli. Don’t worry about, did I swing (in my delivery) that time? Larry will let me know that. Just go out there and make a pitch, pitch after pitch.”
A few things to take from today’s two scoreless innings:
• Burnett threw 21 pitches, 15 for strikes. He never threw back-to-back balls.
“I feel like I’m able to correct it after (missing a spot) once,” Burnett said. “As opposed to, I did it and, oh god, what was it? Was it my arm? Was it my leg?… I know how I feel, muscle memory from what I’ve been working on, I’m going to correct it the next pitch. Just get the ball back, look at the sign and go.”
• Burnett took his quieter mechanics to the mound, and Joe Girardi said Burnett’s stride was off line only once this afternoon.
“It’s not a swing, it’s a little turn,” Burnett said. “There’s going to be a turn (in the delivery), but as long as I lift to that turn and not karate kick up to it — if you want to call it (that) — it will be a lot better, more of a balance point and being able to stay on a line toward home plate as opposed to pulling off toward the dugout.”
• I don’t know how stressed a veteran pitcher gets in an early spring training game, but Burnett did put two runners on with no outs and induce back-to-back ground balls to get out of trouble.
“I’m actually comfortable right now out of the stretch more than the windup, because out of the stretch I’m not turning as much,” Burnett said. “It’s a quick leg kick and straight toward home plate. I’m a little more comfortable in the stretch right now, but it’s the first time out there on the mound and I have a lot of work to do, still.”