Via Marc Carig –
Brian Cashman had to be sure.
The Yankees general manager heard the reports out of Toronto, the ones that said that A.J. Burnett had been reformed. Gone was the pitcher who leaned on raw talent and little else to get by, the one with the nasty streak of a bulldog but the durability of a Ming vase. Inspired by the great Roy Halladay, Burnett had learned the virtue of preparation and thus discovered the key to staying healthy.
Still, Cashman had questions for Burnett when he became a free agent. So they talked about preparation, about lifting weights, running and throwing between starts, all the mundane work it takes to do the extraordinary. Then, Burnett told Cashman about the thing that he believed had made all the difference: his devotion to acupuncture.
“Do you guys have something like that?” Burnett asked.
In the winter of 2008, the Yankees did not. However, with the team still stinging from missing the playoffs and in dire need of high-end arms, Cashman told Burnett he was prepared to change that.
“It was a promise I made to him,” Cashman said. “Clearly, we want to keep this asset on the field. We want him right.”
With that, the Yankees closed the book on two signings that shaped the 2009 championship season: Burnett, who helped the Yankees win the World Series; and Gil Chimes, a Connecticut chiropractor and the first acupuncture specialist employed by the Yankees under Cashman’s watch.
“It’s something that’s part of his routine, his structure, his discipline,” Cashman said. “It’s vital to him and his mind. Therefore it’s vital to us.”
For what it’s worth, I’ve seen an acupuncturist a few times since 2007. And, at times, I’ve found it to be helpful. So, if this works for Burnett, and some other Yankees, I’m not surprised.