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October 8, 2009

A.J. Burnett


THE MODERATOR: Ok, A.J. Burnett was good enough to come in. Let's take first question for him.

Q. A.J., you talked the last couple of weeks about how excited you have been about getting your first playoff start. Do you think it helped you at all to be here last night and get a feeling of what the atmosphere is going to be like, take in a playoff game here before you take the mound?
A.J. BURNETT: I do. It's been a long road. I finally got here. A lot of injuries. Obviously, I take care of myself better than I did in the past. It's been a long time and I finally get the chance. So I'm going to go as it as another start and to be a part of last night and to see the crowd and just to see how everybody reacted emotionally throughout the whole game was good to be a part of. I sat next to Andy and we talked the game the whole time. It was good to be able to sit and watch it before I got out there.

Q. Where were you in '03 during the Marlins' post-season?
A.J. BURNETT: I was here. When we came --

Q. What was that like?
A.J. BURNETT: It was good and bad. It was good because I saw my peers who I came up with who struggled the first couple of years in the Florida organization so it took some ease off of it. We came here our first workout in '03 for the series was my first day of long tossing after my surgery. I was just getting to where I could throw so it kind of made it even worse. I'm looking forward to being part of this.

Q. A.J., how do you explain the rhythm that you and Jose Molina have had in the last six starts?
A.J. BURNETT: It's more of kind of a me rhythm. It's being able to throw both heaters any time I want. And just working off of that. Four-seam, two, seam. Just whenever, inside, out and not really worrying about calling it, kind of working a faster pace. He just keeps me going at a little quicker pace. We seem to click.

Q. A.J., we keep hearing that word "rhythm", Girardi used it, Molina used it, you used it. What is it specifically that that means to you and how does it translate better between you and Molina than its to you and Jorge?
A.J. BURNETT: Well, I wish I knew. I went through that stretch early in the year it was pretty impressive stretch with Jorge. So that was a good rhythm too. I figured he was going to catch because we had a good rhythm in the past handful of starts. I guess it's a comfort level. It's maybe having the same guy out there every day and not mixing it in and out. And just getting the feel of him wanting to know what I want to do on a consistent basis instead of having to come in and out and figure out what we're doing. It's the same game plan every day. Just sticking to it.

Q. Earlier today Ron Gardenhire described the Yankee lineup top to bottom professional hitters, always taking professional at-bats. Can you talk about the advantage or the comfort level that means to you and the rest of the pitchers knowing what those guys are going to do?
A.J. BURNETT: We talked about it earlier as a staff in the bullpen about just keeping it close. We get the last at-bat here and that's always good. But with this team they never give up. All the come-from-behind wins. I think probably 15 pies this year. That's a lot of pies. They never give up.
We want to keep the game close. The way these guys swing the bat one through nine it's possible for a come back any night.

Q. A.J., you're emotional when you're out on the mound. It seems like Jose has done a good job of sort of getting on the same page with you and calming you down there. How does that work out between you guys? What does he do so well as far as trying to keep the emotions in check?
A.J. BURNETT: You know, it's kind of me keeping him in check more than Jose. He's pretty calm and conservative back there. And Jorge is the same. But it goes back to what I said yesterday about me being right. Unfortunate situation with Jorge and Molina. But I've thrown both games with both. That's just a matter of me being on top of my game, I believe.

Q. A.J., were you surprised by the reaction I guess about the decision who was going to catch you? Did you think it was not as big a deal maybe as it has been made out to be? Were you surprised by all the questions about it?
A.J. BURNETT: I'm not surprised because what Jorge is to this organization and what he's done in the post-season. He's the leader in this clubhouse. He's the leader in the dugout. When he's out there, even when he's not playing, he's very vocal and he's very -- he's around all the time. So I imagine what -- how he's feeling, you know. But like I said, I figured it was going to happen just because of the handful of starts that Molina caught me. And I'm just going to worry about taking my starts tomorrow. Molina is back there, skip made the decision and there's really nothing we can do about it.

Q. What's the best way to describe the Twins' lineup?
A.J. BURNETT: You had to ask that. It's a good letdown lineup. They have some powerful lefties there, obviously the guy behind the plate and the right fielder swings the bat well. You got the lead-off guy gets on base a lot. They pick their times to be aggressive. And they play small ball. They can bunt the ball anywhere and deaden it anywhere. You have to be on the toes for anything. They run, they hit, they hit for power and they do the little things. So you have to attack one pitch at a time and see what happens.

Q. A.J., you said you sat on the bench last night and talked to Andy. He obviously has a ton of post-season experience. What did he tell you about the playoffs? Is there anything you took from talking to him that you may carry out with you tomorrow night?
A.J. BURNETT: Really, it wasn't about pitching in the post-season. It was more about the environment of last night. It's just another start. It means a lot. It's the post-season. It's my first one. I understand all that. I have to go at it as another start and not overdo it and just be me. That's basically what he kept telling me.
It's going to be crazy. It's going to be loud. It's going to be emotional. But you'll find a way. Just stick to my routine, which is that pitch-by-pitch that even I talked to him about. That was basically it. Not get carried away with everything. And just stay on top of it. Focus.

Q. A.J., more than the emotional side, physically you talked a lot this year about wanting to stay healthy and doing that all the way through. Physically how much do you feel you still have in the tank for this stretch run?
A.J. BURNETT: I feel like I have a full tank. I feel good. I felt good my last start. Obviously I was limited for a little tune-up, but I felt great. Balls coming out great. Staying in my lanes. Everything is clicking on the mound mechanically. I feel very strong. I condition myself a lot. I do a lot of running. One of my goals, my main goal was to stay healthy and make it to the post-season. That's why I came here to be able to do that two years in a row is big for me, I think.

Q. One more on '03. Were you in the middle of the celebration on the field after the Game 6?
A.J. BURNETT: Yes, I was. I was actually talking about it today about how loud that place was comparing to it last night. It was pretty loud. It was pretty -- it was the same. But I was out in the middle. I got to where Josh did his great thing. Now it's my chance and it's our chance to do that here. I'm glad I'm a part of it and not having an arm on my sling and where I can't pitch.

Q. Having watched post-season games including the ones you were at in '03 power pitchers often do well in the post-season. I was wondering do you see yourself and with the stuff you have as being the kind of pitcher that would translate well to post-season pitching?
A.J. BURNETT: I plan on backing that up. I've always said I'm ready for the stage. And I want to pitch -- I watched every game -- I lay in my bed with my wife watching the games. I just imagined if I could have the opportunity to throw in the post-season, pitch in the post-season.
But, yeah, that's going to be a task for me. To harness it and not go overboard because it's the playoffs and it's a packed house and it means a lot. And just not overdo it and just stay within myself and not overpower it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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