Russell Martin, one of the few Yankee catchers to develop a rapport with A.J. Burnett -- or at least, not get fired by him -- agreed with Burnett's assessment that he allowed "too many people to tinker'' with his delivery during his stormy three-year stint as a Yankee.
"Exactly,'' Martin said. "A big part of getting better is knowing what information to retain and knowing what information to block out. The best way to do it is, when you’re working on something, work on something specific, work on that well and make it muscle memory. Once you get that going, you can move on to something else. If you’re trying to tinker with eight things at the same time, you’re not going to get any progress.”
Martin seconded the popular theory that Burnett's problems were centered above his shoulders rather than in it. "I think sometimes he would let negative thoughts get into his mind and they would affect him a little bit,'' Martin said. "It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t care or anything; he probably cared more than anybody. He’s just very hard on himself and sometimes over-critical, and when you do that, sometimes you just go the wrong way. Instead of just simplifying the game, he would listen to everybody trying to help him out, and when you do that, it becomes chaotic. I think that’s what was happening in his mind.”
Martin said he and Burnett, who he referred to as "my boy,'' exchanged text messages after the trade become official.
Martin's: "I'm going to bunt on you.''
Burnett: "LOL. I know you better than that, man.''
The Yankees travel to Bradenton this spring to face the Pirates on March 6, and the Pirates visit Tampa on March 20. Said Martin: "I think he might go over there with a chip on his shoulder and try to prove to the Yankees that they made a bad decision.''