PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett's contributions on the mound have thus far been limited to only one game -- he's set to make his second start on Friday to kick off a seven-game road trip in Atlanta -- but the veteran right-hander's off-field impact has already been more pronounced. Manager Clint Hurdle has not shied from giving Burnett a role implied by his stature. "He's been in a mentoring mode, when appropriate. He's taken to task a couple of guys I've asked him to deal with," Hurdle said.
Quick evidence of that generic comment came minutes later, as James McDonald started his impressive seven innings of one-hit ball in the 2-1 loss to the Rockies in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader. McDonald has been one of the pitchers to whom Burnett has been dispensing advice -- and offering positive reinforcement. "A.J.'s been talking to me a lot about mental preparation," McDonald said between games. "After I came out today, he said my mental approach was a lot better. He liked my focus." There was little to not like, as McDonald dismissed Colorado on a solitary hit, a seventh-inning infield single by Troy Tulowitzki. "It's having that bullpen mentality right from the first inning," McDonald said, "getting it going right away."