First, we saw this headline from John Harper this AM: New York Yankees must bring back Dave Eiland or hire another pitching coach to tutor A.J. Burnett.
And, here’s a few snips from that feature:
Where’s Billy Connors when you really need him?
Suffice to say that if George Steinbrenner were still The Boss, A.J. Burnett would be on a plane to Tampa today for a fun-in-the-sun tutorial from Connors, famous for years as George’s pitching guru, who either did or didn’t help many a struggling pitcher over the years, depending on who you asked.
Mostly Connors was an annoyance to many a Yankee manager or pitching coach who considered him more of a “bleep-disturber,” as Joe Torre once privately described him, than the problem-solver Steinbrenner seemed to think he was.
And these days Connors, while still employed as an organizational coach in Tampa, has minimal presence in the Brian Cashman regime.
But the point is, with Dave Eiland gone now for three weeks for still-unexplained personal reasons, the Yankees need to throw Burnett some kind of life preserver to keep him from drowning.
Whatever Eiland’s circumstances, the Yankees need to get him back here or bring in a real pitching coach. By all accounts, Mike Harkey – the bullpen coach who is filling in for Eiland – doesn’t have the type of grasp of mechanics needed to make a difference with someone such as Burnett.
Joe Girardi, whose friendship with Harkey dates back to their pitcher-catcher relationship while playing with the Cubs years ago, is defensive whenever the subject is raised.
Yet surely it was revealing that when Burnett got himself into immediate trouble in the first inning Saturday, Girardi decided to go to the mound himself.
And, boom, next we now hear via Marc Carig that Dave Eiland will rejoin the team on Tuesday after nearly a month away from the team on a personal leave of absence.
So, where was Eiland? Well, there’s one rumor going round that he was in rehab. If true, hopefully Dave has some good results from that.