A.J. Burnett spent just three seasons as a teammate of Roy Halladay, but it might as well have been 10 seasons. That’s the type of impact he had, according to Burnett, who signed with the Blue Jays prior to the 2006 season.
“When I went [to Toronto] I didn’t know who I was, what I was, what my calling was,” Burnett said Wednesday morning on The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “I just knew I threw really hard.”
The right-handers became close friends during their three seasons as Blue Jays teammates. Burnett says Halladay, who died Tuesday at the age of 40 in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico, guided him beyond just the mound.
“He helped me be the man I am today,” Burnett said. “What he taught me about being mentally strong, about being professional, and controlling only what you can control, on and off the field, I don’t know if I would have been able to go out the way I went out, without Roy Halladay in my corner.”
Burnett signed with the New York Yankees following the 2008 season and won the World Series there in ’09. He retired at the end of 2015 after a strong 17-year career.
He says he got on the phone late Tuesday with some former teammates to remember Halladay.
“You have to celebrate this guy, this machine, this stud of a human being that God made.”
Burnett also told a great anecdote about eating a steak at Halladay’s house. Take a listen to the 6:00 mark of the audio player below.