You may recall that last August 22, during a game at Fenway Park, A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada had been disagreeing on pitch selection when David Ortiz launched an ill-advised fastball into the stands. Burnett, who’d wanted to throw a curveball, turned toward the outfield and was captured by TV cameras shouting, “Why? Why would you throw that pitch?” (If you’d forgotten this episode, you were likely reminded today, more than once.) Posada would catch Burnett just once more all season (a bad outing on September 1 in Baltimore), leaving the catching duties to the offensively challenged Jose Molina, even during the World Series.
But after working with each other this spring — Posada even stayed late one rainy night to catch Burnett in a simulated game — that’s all water under the bridge. (Or, you know, so they say.) Burnett says it was never true in the first place that he didn’t like working with Posada, though the numbers say otherwise: When someone other than Jorge Posada caught him, Burnett’s ERA was more than a run and a half lower, while his batting average against dropped 45 points.
It’s a big day for nagging A.J. Burnett story lines, because not only will he be pitching to Posada tonight, he’ll be doing so at Fenway Park, where he had all kinds of problems last year. While with the Blue Jays, Burnett pitched brilliantly in Boston, which certainly didn’t hurt when it came time to negotiate a contract with the Yankees. But last year, Burnett started three games at Fenway, going 0–2 with an ugly 14.21 ERA. Burnett said he’ll prepare for tonight’s start by watching tapes of those Fenway outings with the Blue Jays in order to see himself “making and executing the right pitches to these guys.” Perhaps he should make some popcorn and invite his new pal Jorge to watch the tapes with him.