BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - A.J. Burnett didn't view his trade from the New York Yankees to the Pittsburgh Pirates a year ago as a punishment. Instead, the veteran right-hander considered it a new opportunity, one that has paid off in surprising ways.
Burnett flourished in 2012, reviving his career with a 16-10 record and becoming the elder statesman of a young pitching staff. He developed a close relationship with James McDonald and embraced the role of mentor on a team trying to break out of two decades of losing.
Burnett says he never intended to become a leader but he enjoys the chance to help turn around a franchise. He is in the final year of a contract that will pay him more than $16 million this season and says he wants to be a part of Pittsburgh's first winning season in 21 years.
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