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Burnett pumped to be part of rivalry

Burnett pumped to be part of rivalry

A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett won't be signing up for a special cell-phone plan to keep in touch, but they know plenty about each other, having spent years together as teammates.

The chummy rivalry of former Florida Marlins fireballers will be on display on Saturday as opposing forces in a not-so-friendly rivalry, taking sides on the field at Fenway Park as center-stage performers.

It will be a Red Sox-Yankees matinee broadcast on FOX, with Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Ken Rosenthal contributing to bring the action to homes across the country.

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They will bear witness to Burnett's first experience wearing a Yankees uniform at the Fens. He said that while the Red Sox fans have given him some ribbing over the years about his friendship with Beckett, the volume should be amplified on Saturday.

"I get it during batting practice a lot: 'Beckett's better! We love Beckett!'" Burnett said. "It's kind of funny, a lot of the stuff they throw at you. We have the same fans in New York. They watch every pitch and that's what it's all about."

Burnett and Beckett became Marlins teammates in 2001, and they could easily be lumped together as gunslingers who reared back and tried to strike out the world instead of actually pitching, an adjustment that has come gradually for both gifted arms.

"I remember his little act when he came up," Burnett said. "He was a beauty. He was a free-spirited little high school kid, and everybody told him he was the next Nolan Ryan, go figure. You can only think what he was like. But you always knew he had a good heart and knew he had fun.

"He grew up quick there, and he always heard how good he was and wanted to believe it. When he pitched that [2003] World Series, he really took in what everybody was saying and what he could really do. That's when he turned the page, I think."

Both left Florida after the 2005 campaign, finding homes in the American League East -- Beckett settling with the Red Sox and Burnett landing with the Blue Jays before departing for a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Yankees last winter.

This will be Burnett's first taste of the Yankees-Red Sox fervor, a scenario he envisioned when deciding that his career would move into New York. The Yankees' interest was in large part for him to serve as a force in the division -- Burnett is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in eight starts against the Red Sox, and he enters Saturday's game with 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings at Fenway Park.

"It's definitely going to be different," Burnett said. "This is the series and this is the rivalry everybody talks about. I finally get to be a part of it, so I can't wait. It's going to be exciting.

"I like coming here. I think that when you come to a place and your back is against the wall -- that brings the competitor out and shows what you're made of. I love it. I love coming to places where you're the underdog and there's no chance you're winning today. That makes you rise up."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20 ERA)
Had Burnett not walked the bases loaded with one out in the seventh inning, he might have lasted a bit longer than he did against the Indians last Sunday. As it was, he threw 6 1/3 innings, the longest outing the Yankees had seen through nearly a full turn of their rotation. He walked seven and threw three wild pitches, but the Bombers hardly minded. They needed length, and Burnett gave them at least a measure of it.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (2-1, 3.79 ERA)
Thanks to a five-game suspension, Beckett makes his start one day later than originally scheduled. The righty earned the win in his last outing, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) over six innings. Beckett walked four and struck out five in that one. He pitched better than the line indicated, as all of the runs were surrendered in one inning. Beckett hasn't given up a homer in his first three starts and has held opponents to a .229 batting average. In his career against the Yankees, Beckett is 7-4 with a 5.33 ERA.

Tidbits
Yankees batters were held without a home run for the first time in 10 games on Friday and just the third time in 16 games this season. ... Nick Swisher reached on a single in the fifth inning, and he has reached base in all 16 of his games played this season. ... With an infield single in the third inning, Mark Teixeira recorded his 1,000th career hit on Friday. He has hit safely in his last six games, batting .320 (8-for-25) with two home runs, seven RBIs and three runs scored in that span. ... Derek Jeter collected his 1,013rd career RBI on Friday to move into a 10th-place tie with Bob Meusel on the Yankees' all-time list. Jeter has hit safely in eight of his last nine contests, batting .350 (14-for-40). ... Mariano Rivera appeared in his 859th career game on Friday, passing Charlie Hough for sole possession of 30th place on baseball's all-time list.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FOX

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 2-0, 2.53) at Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 1-0, 3.18), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Yankees (CC Sabathia, 1-1, 4.81) at Tigers (Justin Verlander, 0-2, 9.00), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Yankees (TBD) at Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 1-1, 2.77), 7:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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