Lower earned run average for Burnett probable

A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett will need to improve upon the 5.26 and 5.15 ERA figures he posted for the Yankees the last two seasons, but there is cause to believe he will: He'll be playing in far more pitcher-friendly PNC Park, against far lesser bats in the National League Central and maybe even under less pressure given the perennially low expectations of the Pirates.

Burnett didn't mince words when he talked about what went wrong in New York. His ERA was 5.20 over the last two seasons with the Yankees.

"I put more pressure on myself than anyone else does," Burnett said. "It was fun the first couple years. Then it got more like, 'Am I ever going to get out of this funk?' Now I've got a chance to -- open arms right now."

The Pirates will pay $13 million of Burnett's salary the next two years. New York will be on the hook for the rest, approximately $20 million.

Burnett hopes he can return to the form he had in Toronto, which earned him the large contract in the first place.

"I let a few too many people tinker with me, maybe," Burnett said. "When you let that happen, you start doubting yourself sometimes. You wonder, 'Am I doing it right? Is this how it's supposed to feel?' and things like that. In '09, nobody messed with me. I was able to do what I wanted to do on the mound, whether it was turn around, close my eyes and pitch upside down. Then you have a few bad games and you start changing and listening."

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