View Full Version : Starkey: Pirates' Burnett turns up the heat

08-04-2013, 10:12 AM
On days he doesn't pitch, A.J. Burnett can be calm and thoughtful. That was the state in which I found him Wednesday.

In that state, so different from the fury that grips him on the mound, Burnett could reflect on his previous two starts and chuckle. He was confronted by his manager in the first, charged by the home plate umpire in the second.

Kind of makes you wonder what's on tap Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.

“I don't know,” Burnett said. “But I'm going to keep my team in the game, I'll tell you that.”

Burnett had culpability in both incidents. That's the beauty of it. The man might sometimes overshoot the mark — he might seriously overheat — but isn't that part of why you love him?

After years of watching this carcass of a baseball franchise drag itself from one loss to another, you wanted somebody to show a pulse. You wanted somebody to smash the buffet table, blast acid rock into John Russell's ears, rip the windows open and proclaim, “We're not going to take this anymore!”

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Burnett is that guy, whether he's ordering Hanley Ramirez to “Sit the (expletive) down,” the way he did last season, or telling the bullpen to essentially do the same, which he did July 25 in Washington as he came off the mound after the fifth inning.

That display rightfully drew Clint Hurdle's ire. He lit into Burnett in the dugout.

On Wednesday, the calm and thoughtful Burnett could look back and analyze the event for what it was: a positive interaction.

“When I'm on the mound, I'm in game mode,” he said. “I don't know what (the coaching staff is) thinking. But they saw I had to battle through some innings. They figured they needed a guy up. Of course I don't think like that, 'cause (he switches to a mock tough-guy voice here) ‘I'm going to take the ball for 150 pitches and you're not going to take it from me.'

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/joestarkey/4442871-74/burnett-guy-hurdle#ixzz2b0te03WT