LIers Danny Burawa, Matt Daley could make Yankees' bullpen
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TAMPA, Fla. - When Danny Burawa showed up for his first big-league camp two years ago, he was a typical rookie in many respects, somewhat star-struck and a bit nervous.
He soon encountered a friendly face from a familiar area: Matt Daley, a fellow Long Islander.
"When I first met him two spring trainings ago, we kind of bonded over Long Island right away," Burawa said Sunday.
Burawa, 25, starred at Rocky Point and St. John's; Daley, 31, excelled at Garden City, where he won a state title in 2000, and Bucknell.
"Right away, we had something to talk about and relate to," said Burawa, the Yankees' 12th-round pick in the 2010 draft. "Over cold weather, having to do things the hard way to be where we are. As long as I've known him, he's kind of taken me under his wing a little bit. He's full of great advice. He's the guy if you have a question, you want to ask him, because he knows it all."
Said Daley: "I think you always try and look after the younger guys from your area. Especially once I found out he was a Long Island guy and a St. John's guy, because I'm a big St. John's basketball fan. And more than anything, he's just a good kid."
The two have more in common than being from Long Island. Both have had to fight their way back from serious injuries.
There's this, too: Both are legitimate contenders for one of the open spots in the Yankees' bullpen.
Joe Girardi said early in camp that only closer David Robertson and likely setup men Matt Thornton, a lefty, and Shawn Kelley, a righty, are assured slots.
"After that," Girardi said, "it's kind of pretty open."
The Long Island righthanders have pitched well to this point, including Sunday in a 3-3, 10-inning tie with the Rays. The hard-throwing Burawa, whose fastball sits at 92-96 mph and has been clocked as high as 98 this camp, allowed an unearned run in the eighth inning and has allowed one earned run in four outings.
Daley, an undrafted free agent who signed with Colorado in 2004 and made it to the majors in 2009, struck out two in a perfect ninth Sunday and has not allowed a run in three appearances.
Daley, a precise strike-thrower with a quirky delivery that can make him especially difficult on righty batters, pitched well for the Yankees after being called up last September, allowing no runs and two hits in six innings.
Neither pitcher is taking thoughts about a roster spot into games, giving similar answers in separate interviews.
"If you think about that while you're on the mound, you have no chance to compete that day, so I just try and think about the pitch, the hitter and what I want to do," said Daley, who had labrum surgery in August 2011 that kept him from a return to the majors until last September. "Does it creep into your mind when you're sitting in the locker room or sitting at home? Of course it does, but at the end of the day . . . that's not going to do anything for me. All I can do is control what I can control."
Burawa, coming off a torn oblique suffered two springs ago, looks as good as if not better than the pitcher who created such a buzz among Yankees and opposing team evaluators before the injury.
"None of that is within my control," Burawa said. "I just go out and try to be a better pitcher and make sure my body's in shape and work on my pitches, and the people who make those decisions will notice how I look and how I work. You can't worry about things that are beyond your control."
In evaluating his spring training, Burawa would allow only "I feel like it's going OK." That made Daley grin when it was relayed to him.
"I don't think he even knows how good he can be," Daley said. "When it clicks for him, he's going to be a really, really good pitcher. He's very deceptive, he throws hard, he's got tons of movement. What more do you want out of a pitcher?"
As for two right arms from Long Island making it in the Yankees' bullpen? Both pitchers smiled at the prospect.
"I think it's fantastic," Daley said. "I think there's a lot more talent on Long Island than a lot of people realize, especially pitching-wise. There's some guys with some arms, so it's pretty cool to have two guys in the same clubhouse with a decent shot. And if not [out of camp], then hopefully at some point during the season, both of us can be up there."