A.J. not perfect, but A-OK vs. Jays
Burnett limits damage after working from stretch for first time
TAMPA, Fla. -- One pitch into Thursday's start, A.J. Burnett could look over at third base and see something he hadn't seen all spring -- a runner aboard, finally forcing him to work out of the stretch.
Burnett's third outing of Spring Training wasn't going to go as smoothly as the first couple, and the right-hander was OK with that. Working on his delivery and limiting damage, Burnett held the Blue Jays to one run in 3 1/3 innings to log the win in New York's 7-4 Grapefruit League victory.
"I needed that one," Burnett said. "I needed one where I needed to work. They're not all going to be like the first two. The good thing is that I made the pitches when I needed to."
Burnett's first pitch was ripped up the gap in right-center field by Joe Inglett for a triple, meaning Burnett's former team had accomplished something 12 Astros didn't on Saturday. Finally getting to work from the set, Burnett got a popout, and, after a walk, he induced a double-play grounder to end the frame.
"You're not always going to have perfect stuff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He gives up a triple to lead off the game and keeps Inglett from scoring. He had to battle a little bit more tonight. He was in the stretch a lot and he wasn't as efficient as he was, but he kept them in check."
Burnett also endured a scare from his former teammates, as John McDonald ripped a second-inning line drive back through the middle. Burnett flung his left arm in the way of the ball, which struck him on his left triceps.
After being examined by Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue, Burnett remained in the game, joking that his arm had been protected by the Bruce Lee tattoo it hit.
"If it wasn't for Bruce, I'd be in trouble," Burnett said. "Thank God it was Johnny Mac."
Having no difficulty was closer Mariano Rivera, who made his second appearance of the spring and retired the Blue Jays on just five pitches in the sixth inning, inducing a pop out and two flyouts.
Rivera's evening was so efficient, Girardi dispatched him to the bullpen to complete his throwing. Rivera is scheduled to pitch again on Saturday against the Tigers.
"The whole process is good, but you want to be able to throw a little more," Rivera said. "You can't control, especially if they're swinging. That's why you have seven guys behind you."
The only setback of the night for New York was outfielder Nick Swisher, who fouled a ball off his left calf during a second-inning at-bat. Swisher remained in the game and doubled in the plate appearance, but his bruised calf stiffened and he was removed from the game.
"It hurts, but we got it all iced up and I'll be good to go," Swisher said.
Swisher is listed as day to day with a bruise, but will be scratched from the Yankees' travel roster on Friday, thus getting him out of the 2 1/2-hour bus ride to play the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla.
"There's easier ways," Girardi joked. "You could just ask sometimes."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.