By: Casey Shea

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After weeks of speculation and discussion, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally got pitcher A.J. Burnett.

In order to get Burnett, the Pirates sent minor leaguers Diego Moreno, a relief pitcher, and outfielder Exicardo Cayones to the Yankees.

Pirate fans have something to be excited about with Burnett as he has won at least 10 games in seven seasons during his career.

He has also been one of the top strikeout pitchers in the league over the last decade.

Despite what you might think about leaving a perennial contender, he is happy to have a change of scenery.

“No regrets. I got my ring there, got to play with teammates that a lot of people won’t get to play with, Hall of Famers and played for a great manager in a great city. So, I take it and run. That chapter is closed and it’s time to move on to the next one,” Burnett said.

“We gave up two pretty good players, but we feel like we got a very good pitcher that’s going to help us a lot over the next two years in more ways than just off the field, on the field. We’re looking forward to [Burnett] helping to stabilize our rotation. We’re a young team that we feel like we’re ready to take a step forward and he makes us better,” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said.

The last couple of seasons have not been good for Burnett as his ERA ballooned to over 5.0.

Last season, Burnett was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA in 33 appearances for the Yankees. He struck out 173 and walked 83.

Burnett said he knows why he struggled over the last couple of years.

“Without getting too far into it, I would just say I let a few too many people tinker with me maybe. When you let that happen, you get out there and you start doubting yourself sometimes like, ‘Am I doing it right? Is this the way it’s supposed to feel?’ This and that. In ’09, nobody messed with me. I was able to do what I wanted to do on the mound whether it was turn all the way around, close my eyes, pitch upside down, whatever it was. And then you have a few bad games and you start changing and listening,” Burnett said.

As for how he thinks he can step in and immediately contribute to the Pirates, Burnett is going to take a workmanlike approach.

“You just lead by example. I think that’s what the main thing is. I’m a hard worker. I’ll take the ball every five days. I’m not going to make any excuses. That’s one thing I can take from my time in New York is that I never back down from anything. And that’s what it’s all about. More for the leadership I guess than watching and learning, more than anything else. Just how you carry yourself in certain situations. I’m not a cheerleader, pom poms. I’m not going to have a ‘C’ on my chest, but I know right and wrong and hopefully, I can shine some of that on the younger players,” Burnett said.

The Pirates will open up Spring Training games on March 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays.


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