BRADENTON, Fla. -- If Russell Martin truly intends to lay one down on "my boy," A.J. Burnett, the Yankees catcher had better already be practicing his bunting.
Contrary to Martin's belief that the teams will meet this season in Interleague Play, the Pirates and the Yankees are scheduled for simply Grapefruit League dates: March 6 here, March 20 in Tampa.
The Bombers will enjoy seeing Burnett in a Pittsburgh uniform, none more than his 2011 batterymate, who predicted a strong bounce-back season for the righty out of New York's microscope.
"A.J.'s my boy ... I wish him the best," Martin said from the Yankees' Spring Training camp. "He had to battle all those outside influences that affected him; reading negative stuff in the paper, the fans being down on him a little bit. You can say it doesn't bother you, but it affects you.
"I think sometimes he would let negative thoughts get into his mind and they would affect him a little bit. If he's able to be a little less hard on himself and breathe a little bit out there, he'll be fine. I think he might go over there with a chip on his shoulder and try to prove to the Yankees that they made a bad decision."
Once details of Burnett's long-rumored deal to the Pirates were finalized on Friday, Martin relayed good-luck wishes via text.
He also threatened to bunt on him, with Burnett replying, "LOL. I know you better than that, man."
After only one season together, Martin knows Burnett well enough to call him "a great talent."
"He got better last year [as the season progressed], he just wasn't as consistent as he would have liked, I'm sure," Martin said.