Shortly after Russell Martin slid into his Pirates' catching gear for the first time, he saw a familiar face.
On the first day of workouts this spring, Martin and former New York Yankees teammate A.J. Burnett were paired in the first set of bullpen sessions. And though the face was familiar, the pitcher wasn't.
"I've never seen him throw like that before," Martin said through his catcher's mask.
And, when Burnett finished his 30 or so pitches, Martin had but one word for his old and new teammate: "Wow."
"I saw a guy who had better command," Martin said Friday. "He had better control of his body. He just looked in better shape than when I saw him in New York, not that he was in bad shape in New York. But he just looked like he was in great shape."
It was no mistake that these two players were grouped together to kick off spring training. They both represent significant -- and bold -- investments by the Pirates' front office. They are both de-facto team leaders, given their veteran status and past success.
Martin's teammate with the Yankees in 2011, Burnett was resurgent in Pittsburgh in 2012. After starting the season on the disabled list with a fractured orbital bone, he rebounded to lead the team in wins, starts and innings and led the starting rotation in ERA and strikeouts.
"The only thing A.J. has to be is just be A.J.," pitching coach Ray Searage said.
New catcher Martin and Burnett are a good match for the Pirates
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Mar 3