A.J. Burnett had some choice words for Joe Girardi after the New York Yankees manager pulled the frustrated pitcher out tonight's game against the Minnesota Twins. Girardi had seen enough after the ineffective Burnett had already given up four runs and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning.
As Burnett walked towards the dugout, he turned back, glared at Girardi and let loose with a public diatribe directed at the manager.
Those words could be Burnett's last as a Yankee starter.
Girardi called in Luis Ayala to relieve the useless Burnett with two outs. Ayala promptly gave up two hits to the Twins batters and padded the Minnesota lead to 7-0.
After a few moments of mulling over Burnett's verbal assault, and the yanked Burnett's bee-line to the clubhouse, Girardi himself made his way into the same Yankees lounge from the team bench. Girardi returned to the dugout rail a few minutes later and, miraculously, Burnett reappeared on the dugout bench a couple of minutes later-- pouting.
The snarling Burnett abruptly returned to the clubhouse after watching Ayala deposit the three runs into Burnett's already bloated ERA.
What was said in the locker room between Girardi and his frustrated pitcher to make him come out of the clubhouse is unknown, but it probably had to do less with Burnett's feelings than a spot in the starting rotation.
This isn't the first time Burnett (9-9 before the game) has showed up Girardi-- his biggest, and maybe only, supporter. There have been other instances of Burnett barking at Girardi or slamming the ball into the manager's hand when he was being pulled from a game-- which has been a common occurrence this season.
Girardi has always defended Burnett from the fans and media who have called for the $82.5 million starter's head during his six-week losing streak. Before the game the manager said he just wanted "A.J. to compete."
Now, Burnett pays back Girardi with an embarrassing display of self-entitlement.
Tonight, it looked like the maligned Burnett has totally lost his control, his temper and his manager's respect in one game.
I guess Burnett thought Girardi was supposed to let the underachieving starter-- who almost let a 12-run lead dissipate a couple of weeks ago-- continue to get clobbered until he found his groove.
The bad news for Burnett is he pitched badly after a serviceable outing last week. The worse news is he probably yakked his way out of the rotation. There is no good news.
Burnett might have just made Girardi's daunting and long-awaited task of trimming his starting rotation down to five men a lot easier, and Burnett has no one to blame but himself.
Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are veterans who have been consistent, if not overpowering, and young guns Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes look like everything the Yankees hoped they would turn out to be. CC Sabathia is the ace, so that leaves Burnett as the odd-man out.
Odd man is the right term in more than one way.