LOS ANGELES -- A.J. Burnett had a fresh set of eyes while he threw his bullpen on Wednesday at Chase Field in Phoenix. Bench coach Tony Pena was watching, trying to spot any possible tipping of pitches that might explain Burnett's recent struggles.Yankees manager Joe Girardi and acting pitching coach Mike Harkey also attended the session, in which they also reviewed video of Burnett's best starts of 2008 and '09 for comparisons. "There's a reason things are going on," Burnett said. "It's just good to hear different views from everybody else. It was a real positive bullpen." Burnett starts on Saturday against the Dodgers, and he will be trying to escape a funk that has him 0-4 with a 10.35 ERA in his last four starts, with opponents hitting .337 in those games. There was no definitive verdict on possible pitch tipping, which was a suggestion catcher Jorge Posada made. "The only thing I can say is that my front side opens so fast that they can see whatever I'm throwing," Burnett said. "We were working on staying closed and driving downhill. I tend to swing a lot, and when I get out of it too quick, I'm sure you can pick up the ball pretty easily."
Girardi matches wits with mentor
LOS ANGELES -- During their time together on the Yankees' bench in 2005, there were many times that Joe Girardi -- in his role as bench coach -- would lean over to Joe Torre, wondering if this was the right time for a hit-and-run or to pitch out.Girardi said that it was like having a "real open conversation" over the course of a 162-game schedule, which he believed was beneficial as he prepared to go into managing for himself. This weekend, Girardi will get the chance to match his wits against Torre and his Dodgers. "It's going to be interesting," Girardi said. "I used to be able to pick his brain and he'd give me the answers. Now he's not going to give me the answers. That'll be a little different for the first time." Girardi said that he never felt like he had to be fancy to get his point across to Torre, and said he was able to be direct with his thoughts about game strategy -- two minds with National League schooling who had adapted to their surroundings. "The great thing was, I didn't feel like I had to dance around anything I said," Girardi said. "I could just say it." When Torre's time with the Yankees ended after the 2007 season, Girardi sought Torre's blessing to accept the contract offer he'd been given. Without needing to hear it, Girardi was told that managing the Yankees was a terrific opportunity and that he should take it. But even into his third year and now with a World Series title under his belt, Girardi said that he wasn't fully aware of what the job entailed, even while watching Torre up close as a player and a coach. "I don't think you ever really know what it's like to sit in that chair unless you sit in it," Girardi said. "You can imagine. I sat in his office when he had press conferences, I saw everything that he did. I saw him answer tough questions. But until you have to do it, you really don't know what it's like." Some days, Girardi said, are easier than others -- a statement Torre would no doubt agree with after spending 12 years behind the big desk at Yankee Stadium. "It's great to be the Yankees' manager," Girardi said. "But obviously there's a lot of attention paid to what we do on a daily basis, and you have to learn how to manage your time very well. You understand that you have to be accessible. But, I mean, it has been great."
Jeter aims to take down Torre, respectfully
LOS ANGELES -- Derek Jeter wore a sly grin across his face as Joe Torre shuffled to his side of the batting cage on Friday at Dodger Stadium.Jeter may be turning 36 on Saturday, but for a moment, it could have been the 1990s all over again. With a crush of cameramen and photographers documenting their embrace, Jeter and Torre seemed to have no problem picking up where they left off. "We'll always be friends," Jeter said. "He's been a big part of my career. I spent a large portion of my career playing for him. We'll be friends outside of baseball when it's over for both of us." Jeter spoke this week about how he did not believe it would be very awkward to see Torre, whom he also saw wearing Dodgers colors at last year's All-Star Game in St. Louis. The strangest sight, Jeter said, would be seeing Don Mattingly wearing his blue jersey with No. 8 on the back. Jeter and Torre caught up with a phone call on Wednesday while the Yankees were in Arizona, and while Jeter didn't want to divulge details of that chat, he did allow, "It had nothing to do with baseball." The mutual respect between Jeter and Torre -- and the rest of the Bombers' "Core Four" -- may be tangible, but Jeter said that it would not mean anything once the games begin between the white lines. "I don't care if you put my parents in the other dugout, I'm going to try to beat them -- that's the bottom line," Jeter said. "I'll always have the utmost respect for him and that will continue, but when we're playing against him, I'm trying to win."
Torre breaks bread with some old friends
LOS ANGELES -- Andy Pettitte felt a sharp jab in his back as he walked through the parking lot of the Yankees' Los Angeles hotel on Thursday, heading for breakfast with his wife, Laura.It was Joe Torre, who had made his way to the team hotel for a breakfast of his own with some old friends from the Yankees clubhouse. And for as many times as Pettitte was asked how it might feel to see Torre dressed in Dodgers blue, there was no awkwardness to a greeting in street clothes. "It was great to see him," Pettitte said. "It was real quick. I had my wife with me, he gave us hugs. He said he's loving life, we said we're loving life. The kids are good. Everything was good. I thought it would be a little stranger." Torre said that he made the trip to meet with head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, assistant athletic trainer Steve Donohue and clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza. Torre fought prostate cancer in 2000, and said that he has kept tabs on Monahan as he battles throat cancer. "I've stayed in touch with Geno through these tough times," Torre said. "I thought he looked good. I hope he continues to do well."
The Yankees' plans are to play Alex Rodriguez in all three games of the Dodgers series. ... Mariano Rivera struck out two on Wednesday at Arizona and now has 1,029 with the Yankees, surpassing Al Downing (1,028) for sole possession of ninth place on New York's all-time list. It was also Rivera's 944th career appearance, tying Rollie Fingers for 18th on baseball's all-time list. ... Brett Gardner entered play on Friday ranking second in the Majors in June on-base percentage (.476) and fifth in June batting average (.396 -- 21-for-53). The Yankees are 25-10 when Gardner scores a run. ... The Yankees announced on Friday the following signings from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft: outfielder Taylor Anderson from Woodlawn School-La. (seventh round) and right-hander Dustin Hobbs from Yavapai College (21st round).
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.