06/27/2007 9:47 AM ET
A.J. Burnett: Changing it up
Prior to this season, A.J. Burnett relied on his fastball and curveball. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
I've been throwing my changeup more this season. It's a pitch I've worked on quite a bit going back to Spring Training. As stubborn as I am and as hard as I throw, I just figured it's about time I started mixing it into games more often.
I just made the decision one night to start throwing it more. If you can consistently throw the changeup, even if it's not always for a strike, it gives the hitters something else to look at. They can't just sit on that fastball.
My changeup isn't a new pitch -- just rusty. I've always had one. I just never really threw it. I've relied on my fastball and my curveball. I tried to get ahead with the heater and then put them away with something else. Now I have another option.
The pitch works on a lot of levels. You can use it to finish a guy off or to keep a guy off balance. If you show it often enough, it has to be in the back of the hitter's mind, too. You want the hitter to have one more thing to think about.
Again, it might end up a ball, but it gives the opposing player the thought that, "Hey, this guy can throw a changeup at me." If they swing and roll the ball over to third or short, I can get some quick outs. If that means I throw fewer pitches and I can stay in a game another inning, that helps the club.
I taught myself how to throw my changeup a long time ago. I just thought about it and started throwing it. Now, it comes down to one simple thing -- throwing it. You have to throw it often enough to make it work for you.
When I played with the Marlins, we had a hard-throwing staff -- Josh Beckett, Brad Penny and myself. One guy here on the Blue Jays who has a real good changeup is Shaun Marcum. Even if I throw one or two in a game, I know he's in the dugout raising his hands or something and smiling.
Shaun throws a couple different types of changeups. He's a young guy, but he has a real good feel for his changeup and pitching in general. Among the teammates I've had in my career, Shaun really stands out to me as having a great changeup.
Hard-throwing veteran A.J. Burnett has a career record of 64-64 with a 3.79 ERA, allowing opposing hitters just a .234 batting average. The 30-year-old right-hander, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list this week following a bout of shoulder soreness, is 5-6 with a 4.00 ERA with 100 strikeouts over 90 innings this season.