Burnett, Cervelli reunite for first time since 2011

Former Yankees teammates form battery as catcher homers in victory

Burnett, Cervelli reunite for first time since 2011

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- At the outset of his start in Monday's 7-6 victory against Tampa Bay, A.J. Burnett had a problem with location.

Not the location of his pitches, but the location of catcher Francisco Cervelli. The two are former New York Yankees teammates, but Cervelli was catching Burnett for the first time since June 13, 2011.

"I'm a completely different guy than I was then. Me and Cervy were getting reunited in that first," said Burnett, who, only two pitches into the game, waved for Cervelli.

The two met halfway to the mound, had a brief chat, and Burnett sent him back home with a tap atop his helmet.

"I told him where I wanted him behind the plate: not in the middle, but get me on the corners," Burnett said. "He moved, and I kept asking him for a little more [sideways movement], a little more. Now he knows. And I started to get into a little groove."

Between the first inning, when he was jumped for two runs, and the start of another rally in the fifth that wound up chasing him, Burnett retired 11 straight, despite having to rely on secondary stuff.

"I had to pitch a little bit today," Burnett said. "There wasn't too much life to the fastball, [I had to go with] more movement. It was a day when the changeup and hooks played."

"He used all three of his pitches to both sides of the plate," said Dave Jauss, the co-bench coach who took a turn managing the Bucs. "I thought he pitched really well. To do that in the middle of a humid day in Port Charlotte, that shows you're fresh, even if all your stuff isn't there."

Interestingly, Burnett made his first start with Cervelli behind the plate after already being paired once each with Chris Stewart, Elias Diaz and Tony Sanchez. So he has run the table on any possible 2015 combination.

"I don't mind that at all," Burnett said. "At some point, I might have to throw to all of them. They've all been great. This was a good day to get [Cervelli] back there and get to work with him."

Touching all the bases

• First: Jauss managed the Bucs in the absence of Clint Hurdle, who instead spent the afternoon at Pirate City.

• Second: Cervelli has an exotic Grapefruit League batting line, with more walks (seven) than hits (six), but also a team-leading three home runs.

• Third: Burnett has been charged with nine runs this spring; five of them were scored by runners he bequeathed to relief pitchers after his departure.

• Home: Gorkys Hernandez, the once-and-again Pirates outfield hopeful, went 3-for-4 with a homer on Monday and now is batting .407 overall, with eight hits in his last 15 at-bats.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.