Oct. 2 A.J. Burnett workout day interview
Q. You've had some really good games against the Cardinals this year. There have been a couple where they've been able to get to you as well. How do you describe the difference in those games? Is there something you can pinpoint as to why it's been so lopsided either direction?
A.J. BURNETT: Just pitch execution at the right time. You know, not getting the ball where I want to. That's basically the bottom line. They got me early once here and then they got me later on in the game where I had some opportunities to put some guys away and I wasn't able to.
The games that I've had decent success off of them, I've been able to make those pitches at times. So it's just execution. You know, that's all it is. It's a great lineup over there. You can't make too many mistakes because they'll capitalize on them. And the good games I have limited those, and the ones that have got me, I haven't been able to execute.
Q. Do you expect the crowd tomorrow night to get to you the way your crowd got on Cueto last night? And, if so, do you do your best not to drop the ball literally and figuratively?
A.J. BURNETT: I don't think I'll drop the ball, but I've had crowds get on me before, really loud ones, so I'll be ready for anything.
Q. What do you like about being the Game 1 starter in a series where you want to get off to a good start right away?
A.J. BURNETT: Well, for one, it means that we made it. So that's a good thing. And look forward to it. It's a big opportunity for this team, this organization, and the city.
And I wouldn't want it any other way. Start Game 1 going up against a horse himself with Adam, and look forward to going pitch for pitch with him.
Q. What is the major difference between advancing to the playoffs with the Yankees and advancing to the playoffs with the Pirates?
A.J. BURNETT: Wow. I guess the main thing is over in New York it's expected every year, you know? You tend to get in there a couple weeks before the season ends, and this one was more of a shock the world. We're going to do it. We made it.
They're both I keep both of them very close to me. It's special to get to the playoffs. You don't get there a lot. So this group of guys in there, it's a little different. It's a little closer unit. It's just from when I came over here last year to where we are now, it's just going to be an honor to take the mound for these guys in Game 1.
Q. Obviously since you've been with Pittsburgh, the numbers show it, your demeanor shows it. It's worked out really well. What about the feel of the place seemed to click with you really well? Also, in this situation, you've been in playoff units before, how much do you lean on those experiences? You've been in huge games before, so how big with that will that be tomorrow?
A.J. BURNETT: It will be really big. I've been through it all. I pitched when everybody said I couldn't and came through. I was able to turn it around in Game 2 in '09. So this city, this team accepted me from the get go before I even threw a pitch.
As far as the difference, maybe the facial hair helps. I may be able to be a little scruffy out there, a little more A.J. But I take my experiences over there, the good and the bad. And I've learned a lot from being in New York and I will cherish every moment of that. I think that's made me who I am today, for sure.
Q. What, if anything, needs to happen with your approach to this lineup when they get men on base, because they've shown to be very dangerous this season when they do that.
A.J. BURNETT: Yeah, keep them off base maybe. We'll see. Just I'm not going to be any different. They know me. I know them. We've had games against each other, and they know I'm going to come after them and I'm going to try to put them away. So to be able to put guys away with guys in scoring position or guys on base, it's huge. But just to minimize the damage. Try to keep them off the bags as best I can.
Q. What is your relationship with Clint been like? How has it sort of maybe grown or changed or whatever during the period you've been here?
A.J. BURNETT: It's been wonderful. It's been wonderful. He's treated me like a horse, like an ace from the get go. He's really allowed me to be me. He's really allowed me to do what I want to do on the mound. Leaves me out there when he thinks I need to be out there; take me out when he knows I don't want to come out.
But he's a good motivator and he's a good people person. And he gets to know his players really well. He's really gotten to know who I am and what I am, especially on game days. He's been able to deal with that really good.
Q. What kinds of distractions present themselves in the playoffs, and what would you tell young players on your team how to handle them?
A.J. BURNETT: I think the main thing is nervousness and nerves. A lot of guys haven't been here before. I know we've been talking about it, talking to Russ about it, guys that have played, and you tell them just to try to be themselves. It's the same game. They mean more, but at the same time, this is our job. This is what we do. This is what we dream about as kids and what we prepare and shoot for in Spring Training.
So somehow, some way you've got to be able to find yourself out there at that time and just take a deep breath and be able to relax and do what you do.
Q. You said you've been 50 50 on your future I think earlier this year. What has the last week or two has that influenced that feeling one way or the other?
A.J. BURNETT: No, it hasn't. I'm not even thinking about it as of right now. My focus is on tomorrow night and the next time I throw, if there is a next time. So I'm worried about that afterwards. No more distractions. I don't need anything else to worry about. We'll tackle that when it comes.
Q. You said your time in New York helped you become the person you are now. What about that? What did you discover about yourself from that and what do you take from that into tomorrow that will help you?
A.J. BURNETT: I think mainly that I'm able to handle things better. Handle things and go in there with the big contract and try to overdo things and try to do more than I can do.
It seems like when I came over here I was just worried about pitching and getting outs instead of trying to be A.J. Burnett, the whatever guy. I think the success I had over there and the non success, the failure that I had over there, I'm able to adjust and handle things better.
To experience that ask go through all of that, that's one of the greatest, toughest places to play, and I made it through it and I'm able to find myself that I had in '09. I think that is the main thing is being able to tell guys I've been through it, and I've done it, and there is tomorrow.
Q. What's it like for you on game day? Does everybody give you plenty of room?
A.J. BURNETT: No, they do toward the game more, an hour and a half or so before the game. But I try to get in and get all the sarcasm and goofiness out. During the game, they stay away. I'm pretty focused in my routine and things like that. But it's no different than any other starter, I think.
Q. What is the biggest difference in facing a Cardinals lineup that does not have Allen Craig in it but does have Matt Adams?
A.J. BURNETT: They're both good hitters. Craig's had a great year and definitely has done well against us. But at the same time you have a big first baseman that can leave the yard any time. So it's not a bad problem for those guys to have over there to have a back up like that to replace that guy. But, then again, it's tough to replace Craig. He's a heck of a ballplayer.
Q. There was a lot of uncertainty about how such a young team would handle an environment like last night. What did you learn about your team last night?
A.J. BURNETT: That they're not content with being the wildcard. They're not content with getting where we're at. They want to go further. They want to dump more champagne on each other, they want to celebrate more, and they want to win more.
The thing that's impressed me most about these guys is the one game mentality we keep throwing at them. Doesn't seem to matter what comes at them or what happens good or bad, they come ready to play the next day, and they have short memories.
Q. Picking up on that, on the not being content, how much of that does the manager contribute to and how much can he? I go back to 2011, you weren't there, but he said like that Spring Training we're going to get to the World Series. It's not to have a winning season. What do you want us to do, get T shirts printed up that say we're going to win 82 games?
A.J. BURNETT: Well, that's the thing. The big thing early was us being .500, and the first thing out of his mouth was: Is that really our goal? Is that really what we're here for, to be the team that played .500? No. Our goal is to get the World Series like every other team, to be the guys that don't walk off the field, that celebrate off the field. He's been a huge part of that.
We have our meetings every week when we get together, and he's constantly reminding us about the little things, and he's been really good at that.