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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The sporting world was shocked to hear of the passing of two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash at just 40 years old yesterday.
Former Major League starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, who spent three years with Halladay in Toronto before his days as a Pirate, joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday to talk about the life and legacy of his close friend.
“Roy taught me how to be a professional, to be a pro,” said Burnett. “All those categories of a leader go into that. I got around Roy and I was always a hard worker, but as far as how to handle myself, how to be a mental stud, how to be a mentor to younger kids or just to do it the right way, he was the best that ever did it.”
Burnett also credits Halladay for some of the success that he found here in Pittsburgh after he left the New York Yankees, a time in his career in which he experienced some struggles on the mound.
“People ask me about my time in New York and then going to Pittsburgh and how that was a big change because you were struggling and blah, blah, blah and I was like, ‘Yeah, but had I not come across Roy Halladay in my career, not only would I have not succeeded in Pittsburgh, but I don’t know if I would have been able to pull myself out of New York and go to Pittsburgh and succeed,'” said Burnett. “I was so mentally strong when I left Toronto that I wish I would have played with Roy Halladay my first year in the big leagues, put it that way.”
Not only was Halladay a true professional, but he also had an unmatched work ethic and would make sure that no one around him was out-working him. Not that A.J. didn’t try to mimic his ways.
“I’m easily the guinea pig to all of Doc’s stories because I tried everything Doc tried,” said Burnett. “He knew what he had to do as a pro, he knew what he had to do for his job in order to be successful. If you ask me, it took me a long, long, long time to figure that out. Roy knew what his purpose was in baseball. If I hadn’t been around Roy at the time that I was, I don’t know if I ever would have been able to find my purpose in baseball besides just throwing the ball as hard as I can.”
By the way, A.J. can’t see Andrew McCutchen ever donning another uniform besides that of the Pirates.
“I can’t, I mean you guys had him a year or two before I even got there, so you had him when he was really a pup,” said Burnett. “But, I can’t see him anything but black and gold, man. I mean, that’s a guy you build your team around. He proved that he has a lot left, a lot of people questioned him at the beginning of the year, ‘Has he lost a step? Is this the real Cutch?’ and I’m just like, ‘Man, just wait.’ Just get him mad and he’ll go out there [and perform well]. He’s one of the best centerfielders I’ve ever played the game with. What he means to Pittsburgh and the fact that he lives there and he’s done so much for that community I mean, it would be weird to see him in a different color, that’s for sure.”
You can listen to the entire interview with A.J. Burnett on “The Fan Morning Show” above.