Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/16/14
A.J. Burnett during Spring Training It can be hard to find many “firsts” for a player that is entering his 15th season in the big leagues, but when A.J. Burnett takes the mound on Monday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs he’ll be having one of those moments — his first career Opening Day start. Burnett, now in his second season in Pittsburgh, has spent time with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Yankees in addition to the Pirates but has never been handed the ball to start a season since his debut in 1999. Last season he appeared to be one of the favorites to start on Opening Day but a fractured orbital bone on a bunt attempt in Spring Training put an end to that. Burnett spoke to the media Sunday afternoon at PNC Park prior to the team’s public workout and said that he has “no clue” what his emotions will be like when he’s on the mound against the Cubs. “I imagine they’re going to be overwhelming,” he said. “I’m very excited to do this and be a part of Opening Day for the first time but I’m not going to know what’s up until I come out of the dugout and start warming up. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing. It’s been an amazing year for me here so I can only imagine what tomorrow is going to be like.” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle also spoke to the media on Sunday and said he thinks Burnett is excited to get his first Opening Day start but at the same time knows it is just one of 162 games. “He’s our best pitcher. It’s Opening Day, it’ll be exciting,” Hurdle said. “It’s his first Opening Day start and he’s excited about that. I do think that a lot goes into Opening Day. At the end of the day it’s kind of good that it’s out of the way and you can move on to the volume of the season even though you’re cutting it down one game at a time. I’m happy for him because he’s getting the opportunity to do it for the first time and getting the opportunity to do it here. This is a city that’s embraced him and he’s embraced Pittsburgh.” Burnett said he’s going to try to treat the game like it’s any other game but he won’t know how he’ll react until he’s on the mound. “The thoughts that are going to run through me tonight then I’ll be straight for tomorrow,” he said. “When I go out to warm up tomorrow that’s when the goosebumps will come.” ** Hurdle was also asked about the progression of Starling Marte as a leadoff hitter. “There’s been growth. Selectivity at the plate has improved. Does that mean he’ s finished with that? No it doesn’t,” Hurdle said. “We’ve still got work to do there. There’s some areas he can still fall traps to. The ability to strike a fastball well with power — it still showed up. We saw it on breaking ball yesterday. I think he’s adapted to some soft stuff as well in the zone. (He has a) strong throwing arm, on the bases he’s been aggressive. He had a very solid spring but everyday you go out there’s things you want to remind him of and encourage him to do. He’s playing beside one of the hardest workers in baseball and definitely the hardest worker on our team so the bar’s already been set there from Andrew (McCutchen’s)  perspective with Starling watching him every day.” Marte will hit leadoff against the Cubs in the season opener. Here is the rest of the Opening Day lineup. 1. Starling Marte, LF 2. Garrett Jones, RF 3. Andrew McCutchen, CF 4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B 6. Neil Walker, 2B 7. Russell Martin, C 8. Clint Barmes, SS 9. A.J. Burnett, P ** When Burnett takes the mound it will be a familiar face looking back at him from behind home plate with Russell Martin making his Pittsburgh debut. Martin and Burnett were previously teammates with the Yankees “Our chemistry is great,” Burnett said. “It’s great to have him back. It’s great to throw to him. he’s got a winning desire about him and that’s going to be big in our clubhouse. He wants to win for Pittsburgh. He enjoys it here and he enjoys the guys in a the clubhouse a lot. He fits in great.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Corey Brewer: We got our butt kicked, it was embarrassing

Brian Kelly hints Notre Dame will have fast offense

John Madden: Last play of Super Bowl will 'torment' Pete Carroll

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat trick, sets career high for goals

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Seahawks fan starts GoFundMe for Russell Wilson's contract

Billy Donovan thanks Florida fans with full-page ad

WATCH: Daniel Cormier gets into it with Ryan Bader

Jim Harbaugh compares his driving to Jeff Gordon's

WATCH: High school seals win with perfect hidden ball trick

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kelly drops hint about ND offense

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.