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Some relevant leftovers from a weekend of watching American League East ball, taking in the YankeesBlue Jays game on Saturday in Tampa and OriolesRed Sox on Sunday in Sarasota:

  • Concussions have been a source of major concern in the NFL in recent years, but not so much in Major League Baseball, where head injuries aren't nearly as common. However, the potential for head injuries is real, and Yankees back-up catcher Francisco Cervelli received a concussion when hit on the head by a pitch from the Blue Jays' Zach Zinicola. Cervelli suffered a concussion in the same spot last November when he was hit in the head by a backswing while catching in winter ball. 

    When asked how many concussions he had suffered in his career, Cervelli answered, "I don't know." It was hard to tell if Cervelli was trying to be funny or not. If he was being serious, then it's cause for concern.

  • A.J. Burnett is calling this "The Spring Of The Changeup." The Yankees right-hander is emphasizing the changeup in his exhibition outings to give him a third option to go with his fastball and curveball. Burnett feels mastering a changeup could take him to the next level as a pitcher.

    "I've had some success, but I think I can be a better pitcher," Burnett said. "If I can start throwing the changeup more when hitters are looking for the hook, it's only going to help me. It's going to give the hitters something to think about."

  • Blue Jays pitcher Shaun Marcum faced major-league hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008 and said he felt great. The Blue Jays have a scrambled starting rotation following the trade of ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies over the winter, and a healthy Marcum would be welcome news for a rebuilding franchise.

    Speaking of the Blue Jays' rebuilding process, manager Cito Gaston was quite candid in saying, "It's probably going to take three years before we're competitive again." Gaston, though, is confident the Blue Jays are on the right track and believes new general manager Alex Anthopoulos is the right man to oversee the rebuilding, especially in light of him beefing up the scouting staff significantly over the winter.

  • The terminally upbeat Terry Francona, manager of the Red Sox, says he has every reason to believe his club can contend for its third World Series title in seven years following an offseason of retooling in which right-hander John Lackey, third baseman Adrian Beltre, shortstop Marco Scutaro, and center fielder Mike Cameron were signed as free agents.

    "So much focus has been on how we've improved our defense but it goes beyond that," Francona said. "Lackey is a No. 1-type starter and Beltre, Scutaro, and Cameron are also good hitters, good all-around players. Our defense isn't the only aspect of our team that should be improved. Our whole team is better."

  • Reporters are supposed to be objective, but it's hard for me to be that way about Orioles manager Dave Trembley. I've known him since I first got into the ball-writing business in 1988, and he is a wonderful man who truly paid his dues as a minor-league manager before getting a chance to manage in the majors.

    Trembley is quite excited about the Orioles' young starting pitching, starting with Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman and going on the down the line. Trembley also believes that bringing those pitchers to the major leagues late last season has put them ahead of the learning curve.

    "They've been in the major leagues, so the newness of the situation is gone," Trembley said. "They don't have to worry about adjusting to life in the big leagues anymore. Now, they can just focus on pitching. It's going to make a big difference."

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"If I can start throwing the changeup more when hitters are looking for the hook, it's only going to help me..."

Wouldn't you want them looking for the fastball when you throw a change-up??
In general, yes. But I think Burnett is revealing a little bit more about his personal motivation here. His best pitch is his fastball. If his second pitch is the curve, perhaps he feels he is getting beat too frequently with his second offering. If that is true, then he is trying to give himself more options so that hitters cannot sit on his second pitch.

When you don't get the canned answers, sometimes it is an opportunity to learn a bit more about the players.
Good point. It also might mean that he's trying to get the arm motion to mimic that pitch? Perhaps he wants to be able to have the change work off the fastball by speed and the curve by (reduced) movement? Not sure. I wasn't a pitcher at an age where curves were allowed.
So Burnett has only 2 (albeit plus) pitches? How many prospect reports say a guy must master a third pitch or be considered a relief guy only? If you can have a career like Burnett that's not so bad...
When your fastball and curve are plus-plus as Burnett's are, and you can pitch well through 3 times around the order, you can be a very nice #2 starter. Most guys who get shunted to the pen for only having two pitches do not have two pitches at the level of Burnett's.
According to Fangraphs, Burnett's fastball got knocked around badly last year - it was the worst year for his fastball by far. His curve, on the other hand, still got great results. One thing that was obvious watching him pitch last year was that if he could get players to chase his curve, or drop it in for strikes, then he could dominate. But if the curve wasn't there, he didn't have much left to work with. The two games he pitched in the WS against the Phillies (one good, one bad) illustrated the difference pretty well. Anyone can tag a fastball if they don't have to worry about the breaking pitch.

I'm pretty sure I've also read that changeups are easier on your arm than curveballs, so maybe that's another good reason to try it out.
John- are you the one collecting feedback for the new bp blog format?

I love having more "quick-hit" content, but may I suggest you organize this info differently. For example:

by Jay Jaffe

most recent post

next most recent post

and so on...

Fantasy Beat
by (I'm sorry I forget)

most recent post

next most recent post

and so on...

thanks--this is really hard to do with our current front page, which is why we have the rolling title format that we used to use with Unfiltered, but we'll have a better system in place soon.