Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett understands GM's frustration Print
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Friday, 06 July 2007 13:25
MLB Headline News

 TORONTO (AP) -Another verbal salvo from general manager J.P. Ricciardi is no big deal for A.J. Burnett.
The right-hander, who went on the 15-day disabled list for the second time in a month last Saturday because of lingering soreness in his shoulder, said Friday he wasn't upset about comments Ricciardi made on a local radio show two days earlier.
On Wednesday, Ricciardi told a Toronto radio station he believed Burnett lacked the mental toughness to pitch through pain.
``He's going to have to get over that hump at some point and just maybe pitch through some pain or realize the difference between being hurt and really being hurt,'' Ricciardi said on TheFAN 590.
Before the Blue Jays game against Cleveland Friday, Burnett said he understood Ricciardi's frustration, and felt no ill will.
``I was put in his shoes, I'm sure I'd be a little upset too,'' Burnett said. ``There's been a lot of people who have had my back through this and the person that's had it most, besides my family, is J.P.
``He has the right to be upset. He brought me here, he's got a lot of expectations and me getting hurt, I'm sure it doesn't help out.''
Burnett went back on the DL after lasting just 4 2-3 innings against Minnesota on June 28, allowing five runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs.
That was Burnett's first outing since June 12, when he left a start in San Francisco after four innings because of soreness in his shoulder.
Now in his ninth season, this is Burnett's 10th trip to the disabled list.
Burnett flew to Alabama Monday to see renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who gave him ``a clean bill of health,'' Ricciardi said. Burnett's status will be reevaluated after he throws from flat ground following the all-star break.
Burnett (5-6, 4.31) signed a five-year, $55-million free agent contract with Toronto before the 2006 season. He made two trips to the disabled list with right elbow soreness, missing 10 weeks, and finishing 10-8 with a 3.98 ERA.
Asked about his comments before Friday's game, Ricciardi said he did not doubt the severity of Burnett's injury.
``We're not second guessing anybody,'' he said. ``What we're saying is, sometimes you don't play the whole year 100 per cent.''
``Sometimes when guys get hurt a lot, their natural reaction is 'OK, I don't feel right, I'm going to shut down.' There's a difference between being hurt and feeling some discomfort. Some guys have to learn to do that, some guys never do it.''
In his radio interview, Ricciardi said the emergence of young pitchers Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan has added enough depth to Toronto's staff that he would no longer pursue a pitcher such as Burnett. But Ricciardi insisted he's still happy with the deal that made Burnett a Blue Jay.
``We're very happy he's here,'' he said. ``We like him very much. When he pitches, he's great. We've just got to find a way to keep him out there more consistently. The frustrating thing is we didn't sign him to pitch 20 games. We're hoping we can get 32 starts out of him because he does have the stuff to be a front line pitcher.''
This isn't the first time Ricciardi has targeted Burnett with a public tongue-lashing. The general manager called out Burnett last April after the newly signed righty pulled himself from a game complaining of a sore right elbow.
Burnett insisted his exchanges with Ricciardi will not prompt him to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract following the 2008 season.
``Absolutely not,'' he said. ``He's one of the straightforward, most honest people I've met in the game. I'm happy to be here and I'm hoping that I'll stay here, without question.''
 

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