A.J. Burnett is making his Phillies debut today against his old team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But the Phillies know what they have in the 37-year-old Burnett. They faced him quite a bit when he spent the first half of his career with the Florida Marlins.
Burnett immediately became the No.3 starter many people thought the Phillies had six months ago when they signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez out of Cuba for $12 million.
Gonzalez, however, largely remains a mystery after little work last fall after he signed and a small sample size of work in the first 3 weeks of camp. He took the first big step to introducing himself as a pitcher to the Phillies on Saturday, when he took the mound against the Yankees in Tampa.
Gonzalez allowed two hits, one run, walked four and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. He struggled with command, but pitching coach Bob McClure saw some positives from a guy who hadn't pitched competitively in over 2 years.
"I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for," McClure said. "I knew it was going to be rusty. I knew that. But it didn’t seem like he was in awe, by any means, and he looked competitive and under control. It wasn’t the results you look for, but I was pleased with how he handled himself and how competitive he was and how he pitched. There were a lot of pluses for me there.
"And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes his ass off. So, for not pitching in a couple of years, having a major injury (elbow/bone chips removed in 2012), and first game against the Yankees, I thought he was pretty good. Command wasn’t - but the intangibles (were good). Those are the things you look for."