A.J. Burnett Ready to Lead Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day

By Michael Terrill
A.J. Burnett Ready to Lead Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Day could not come soon enough as starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is ready to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Chicago Cubs.

Burnett is coming off of a solid year in 2012 in which he went 16-10 with a 3.51 earned run average, 180 strikeouts and 202.1 innings in 31 starts. However, he did lose six of his last eight outings to end the season. With that being said, the right-hander will try and put his dismal finish to the season behind him in order to get off to a strong start in 2013.

The 36-year old understands that getting off to a hot start and continuing at a consistent pace is the only way the Pirates will be successful in the National League Central. It is up to him to come out of the gates firing on Opening Day so that the rest of the team can build confidence around him. As an experienced veteran with two World Series rings, it is up to him to become the inspirational leader.

“When I came over here, I became a leader. They didn’t really give me a choice. I was a leader on this team last year before I got here. On my drive down, I was a leader,” Burnett told Pirates.com. “It is what it is — and I love it. It brings more out of me. When I take the mound, these guys all watch me, and that makes me tick.”

All eyes will certainly be on Burnett when he takes the mound at PNC Park on April 1. He has the unique opportunity to set the tone for the entire season with his first pitch. He also has the chance to make his first Opening Day memorable with a victory.

Michael Terrill is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelTerrill, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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