With added wrinkle, Burnett is `Iron Man'

Pressing on, Marlin tries smoothing over freakish injury history

Sports Plus

May 20, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Florida Marlins pitcher A. J. Burnett missed six weeks of minor-league ball in 1998 when he somehow broke his throwing hand playing catch. He missed half of last season after rupturing a thumb ligament during a routine fielding drill. And he missed the first month of this season with a foot fracture suffered while running on a treadmill.

"If something weird's going to happen, it's going to happen to me," Burnett said.

So it did May 7, when the off-beat right-hander developed a blister by dropping a hot iron on his pitching hand while smoothing his jeans at the team hotel in Los Angeles.

"I'm sure the whole hotel heard me [scream] when it happened," said Burnett, who knows from pain.

This is a fellow, after all, with nipple rings.

"Hurt like you wouldn't believe," he said of the body piercings. "I once had knee surgery, and it didn't compare. The nipples were five seconds of torturous pain."

But back to the jeans. He was ironing his jeans?

"They got a little rumpled in my suitcase," the fashion slave sheepishly told reporters. "Dry cleaners from now on."

Burnett pitched that night anyway and turned in six strong innings, but Marlins manager John Boles was perplexed.

"I don't think I've ever ironed a pair of jeans," he said. "I guess he's really become a big-leaguer. He wants to look good."

Five days later, Burnett really looked good, pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres.

Who's hot, who's not

Burnett is hardly the first baseball player who should've settled for a tousled look.

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brian Anderson once burned his cheek while pressing an iron to his face to see whether it was hot.(Anderson also cut his finger pulling a jammed atomizer plunger from a bottle of cologne, missed a start because of elbow stiffness he said he got from putting his arm across the back seat of a taxi on a shopping trip in Beverly Hills and accidentally locked himself out of his hotel room in Cincinnati while sleepwalking ... naked. Talk about nude awakenings! But we digress.)

Years ago, it was reported that Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz suffered slight chest burns while trying to iron his shirt while wearing it. Nice story, but it never happened. Kind of.

Smoltz says he was using a hand-held steamer, not an iron. And that he wasn't wearing the shirt at the time. Or any other shirt, for that matter.

Finally, Boston Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni hung a shirt from his shower rod a few years ago in a Kansas City hotel, then turned on the shower - to steam wrinkles out - and forgot about it for 30 minutes. He also forgot to open the drain, and the room downstairs, belonging to teammate Mike Stanley, was flooded.

"My shirt," Merloni recalled, "wasn't the only thing steamed."

More (ouch) fun with clothes

Mickey Tettleton once got an infected foot from tying his shoelaces too tight.

Wade Boggs sprained his back pulling on his cowboy boots.

Dennis Martinez dislocated his shoulder tossing his luggage onto the team bus.

Huck Flener suffered a cracked shoulder bone when a suitcase flew out of an overhead bin.

Randy Johnson - the former Braves infielder, not the "Big Unit" - dislocated his thumb while pulling up his socks.

Roger Craig - the ex-manager, not the ex-running back - sliced his hand on the hook of his wife's bra.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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