Burnett cuts hand in clubhouse, exits early
Angry hurler pushes doors, apologizes for misleading manager
NEW YORK -- A.J. Burnett placed his hands in his pockets, trying to hide the cuts from Saturday afternoon's outing. But the gesture still didn't conceal the scars he left within the clubhouse.
Following the second inning, a frustrated Burnett vented after allowing two runs, pushing the double doors -- that contained a Plexiglas cover -- inside the clubhouse and subsequently cut his pitching hand with the outburst.
"I got frustrated today and came in and double pushed the door very lightly and had a cut on my hand right above the wrist," Burnett said. "I'm just more embarrassed than anything. I apologize to my teammates and to New York. I've been so good at holding my emotions."
But that wasn't the original explanation Burnett provided to manager Joe Girardi. The pitcher initially told Girardi that he suffered the cuts above his wrist after tripping down some stairs in the dugout.
Believing Burnett, Girardi decided to start him in the third. But after he plunked Evan Longoria and allowed a hit to Carlos Pena in consecutive at-bats, Girardi decided to yank Burnett in favor of reliever Dustin Moseley.
"He said he was OK, and I gave him a chance to go, but after two hitters, I decided he didn't have the command that he thought he would," Girardi said. "For us, we're fortunate the cuts aren't in his fingers."
After a few innings, however, Burnett finally came clean with the team trainers, admitting that he suffered the injuries during a clubhouse tantrum. Then, following the game, he approached Girardi in his office to apologize for misleading him.
"I calmed down and realized that's not appropriate and told the truth," Burnett said. "I'm an honest person. It's been a long time since anything like that happened. I can't do that. I'm not the first person to break something."
And Burnett's not the first Yankees pitcher to break anything either. In 2004, Kevin Brown unleashed his frustrations inside the team's clubhouse, as well, punching a wall that ultimately broke his hand and landed him on the disabled list.
Girardi is hoping Burnett's behavior won't land him there this time around. Although Burnett said he's prepared to make his next scheduled start, Girardi mentioned he'll take a cautious approach to address his pitcher's cuts and anger management issues.
"I will continue to talk to him about, 'It's not the proper way to do it and that we need you and we need you healthy,'" Girardi said. "But sometimes in the heat of competition, guys express themselves in the wrong way. I'm not happy that he did it. My job is to make sure it doesn't happen again. I've got to move on, too, and he has to move on."
Burnett will take that first step Sunday morning. He said he plans to personally apologize to all his teammates for contributing to Saturday's loss and ultimately jeopardizing their quest toward another World Series title.
Regardless of what Burnett says, Curtis Granderson will support his pitcher. Following Saturday's game, the outfielder backed his teammate, saying Burnett didn't need to provide them with an apology.
"Guys get angry and upset," Granderson said. "They put more pressure on themselves than the outside and us teammates do toward each other. No matter how good or bad the performance is, guys put more pressure on themselves. It's frustration -- that's all part of it. If he comes in and apologizes tomorrow, everybody's sure going to accept it."
Didier Morais is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.