A.J. Burnett has a message for his fellow post-game celebrators: Pie responsibly.
The Yankees right-hander, generally credited with reviving the practice of smashing a postgame pie -- or actually, in his case, a towel covered with whipped cream simulating a pie -- into the face of a teammate who gets a walk-off hit, was shocked and appalled to hear about the plight of Chris Coghlan, the Florida Marlins outfielder who now has a date with an orthopedic surgeon to determine if he needs surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee, torn in the act of pie-ing his teammate, Wes Helms, after his game-winning single Monday night.
"He blew his knee out throwing a pie?'' Burnett asked with as much incredulity as his deadpan manner can muster. "I always try to think somewhat safety first. Unless I'm snapping.''
That, of course, was a reference to the door-slapping tantrum that caused him to be removed from a recent start at Yankee Stadium after just two innings. But when it comes to postgame reveling, Burnett said he practices pastry safety. "We're always thinking about safety here, even when I'm pie-ing,'' he said. "I never run full sprint at a guy.''
Coghlans' injury was the second this season to have occurred in a postgame celebration. Earlier this season, the Angels' Kendry Morales broke his leg in a home plate scrum following a walk-off homer. Told that Coghlan apparently injured himself jumping at Helms, who was trying to elude the pie, Burnett adopted the tone of an admonishing grandma: "Why was he jumping? I mean, you don't want to take the fun out of celebrating but you got to do it right. I don't know what else to say. I feel sorry for the guy.''
Manager Joe Girardi, who is famously safety-first, had his own bit of advice for celebrators gone haywire: Don't try to pie the way A.J. does. "It's a fine line we walk there,'' he said. "A.J.'s had a lot of practice and he's pretty efficient at it.''
Girardi said he had not cautioned his team to tone down its celebrations, nor did he plan to -- which suited Burnett fine. "I'm still gonna do my pies,'' he said. "We just gotta find a safe way to do it.''