Had a chat with new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild Monday afternoon. He told me he spent a few days earlier this month at A.J. Burnett's home in Maryland getting to know the number-one priorty on his to-do list for this season. Burnett worked out for him, including throwing off flat ground, and the two watched tape together and talked pitching. Rothschild came away with the impression that Burnett, who turned 34 on Jan. 3 --the same day I turned slightly older -- still has a lot of good basebal left in him.It may be terribly cliché, but it does seem like confidence is key for Burnett. While it isn't quantifiable, I doubt that any Yankee fan would have trouble recalling a moment or five where Burnett hung a curve or just missed with a fastball, then proceeded to completely fall apart. Rothschild's mentoring could go a long way in helping Burnett to trust his stuff - and the Yankees will look much, much better with a solid Burnett.
"He's healthy, the stuff is still there, and his mind and heart are in the right place,'' Rothschild said. "He wants to do well, and I believe I can help him to do that.''
Rothschild said the memory of Burnett's miserable 2010 season --10-15, 5.26 ERA and two entire months, June and August, in which he did not win a single game while losing 10 times -- may be impetus enough for him to rebound with a good 2011. "Nobody wants to have a year like he had,'' Rothschild said. "Maybe that alone will be the boost he needs to get better.''
The article also mentions that Rothschild has worked with and was very impressed by both Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances. I'm curious to see if either can have an impact with the Yankees this season.