A.J. Burnett said he is pitching with a clear head. Through two spring training starts, it appears to be working for him.
The 34-year-old righthander is coming off a rough season, on and off the field. He cut both hands smacking a clubhouse door out of frustration and came to work one day with a black eye, refusing to say anything other than it wasn’t baseball-related.
He went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA in 2010, but it has been a breeze so far this spring.
“My mind is clear,’’ Burnett said. “I’m not thinking about this and that.’’
Burnett gave up two hits over two scoreless innings last Wednesday against Houston. Yesterday, he had one strikeout — Ryan Howard swinging in the second — during a 45-pitch outing that included 30 strikes.
“I still got to build up,’’ he said. “The fact that I was in control and kept the ball pretty much where I wanted to, it was good work.’’
Johnson joins Indians The Indians signed oft-injured first baseman Nick Johnson to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. Johnson, 32, played in only 24 games last year for the Yankees before going on the disabled list for the eighth time . . . An MRI revealed that Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo suffered a strained adductor muscle Saturday and the team has no timetable for his return . . . Diamondbacks infielder Melvin Mora was involved in a minor car accident and is expected to be sidelined for a few days . . . Outfielder Carlos Beltran asked to be held out of the Mets’ lineup, a day after testing his knee for the first time in a game, manager Terry Collins said. The team is taking a conservative approach as Beltran attempts to come back from knee problems that limited him to 81 games in 2009 and 64 last year.
Rough starts Righthander Carlos Silva, competing for a spot in the Cubs’ rotation, gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings in a 14-13 win over the Angels in Mesa, Ariz. He groused about the fielding following his lone inning in his spring debut and third baseman Aramis Ramirez took offense, leading to a minor confrontation. Silva took responsibility for the spat and Ramirez said he’s moved on . . . Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, a pair of pitchers trying to win spots in Cincinnati’s rotation, were hit hard in the Reds’ 15-2 loss to the Brewers in Goodyear, Ariz. Bailey gave up four runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings, and Leake surrendered four runs on nine hits in three innings . . . The game between the Indians and the White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., was called after nine innings tied at 16-16. Winds gusted up to 25 miles per hour in a slugfest that produced 21 runs and 22 hits in four innings.
Jimenez bounces back Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez showed no ill effects from an infected thumb that pushed back his start a few days, pitching three scoreless innings in Colorado’s 7-1 win over the Dodgers in Scottsdale, Ariz. . . . Righthander Jason Isringhausen, who had elbow-ligament replacement surgery in June 2009, continued to make a strong bid for a spot in the Mets’ bullpen, pitching his third hitless inning.
Zaun calls it quits Padres catcher Gregg Zaun, 39, announced his retirement after 16 seasons. Zaun missed most of last season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder . . . MLB fired Mike Port (vice president of umpiring), Ed Burns (vice president of operations and administration), and Darryl Hamilton (senior specialist of on-field operations) as part of the restructuring that put Joe Torre in charge of baseball operations.