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‘Rubber arm’ relief pitcher’s job is pile up innings, set up closer

Arizona relief pitcher Cory Burns has a rubber arm and it keeps bouncing back.

The Wildcats have relied on their senior greatly. He has pitched in 13 of Arizona’s 17 games heading into a series against Arizona State that begins Friday night.

“If I could pitch more I would,” Burns said. “I want to be on the mound.”

Burns, on pace to break Tod Brown’s single-season school record of 35 games in 1993, is likely to see plenty of action this weekend against No. 4 Arizona State.

Arizona has needed Burns with young pitchers getting broken in, as well as injuries throughout the staff.

Burns is pitching not just because he has been effective, with a 4.32 ERA in 16 1/2 innings, but out of need.

His job is to pile up innings in middle relief to set up closer Jason Stoffel.

“Burns has become a valuable asset to bridge us to Stoffel,” UA coach Andy Lopez said. “He has a rubber arm. We have to be wise in what we do with him. If it were up to him, he would throw five innings a day. We can’t do that.

“If things go the way we hope they go, we need him to be serviceable in the postseason. We can’t have him be a rag doll late in the season.”

Burns isn’t complaining about the use or the constant warming up to pitch.

The side-arm delivery reliever is chomping at the bit to get the ball after sitting last year behind first-round draft picks Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry.

“I get up in the mornings and work my arm around and I’m ready to go,” Burns said. “I’m going to get my outs no matter how I feel that day, if I am tight or I am good. I’m going to get the job done.”

Burns doesn’t have a win, a loss or a save.

That won’t be his calling. His job is to save the starters or long relievers to set up Stoffel.

“If we have the lead, I am to get the ball to Stoffel, who is the best closer in the country,” Burns said. “If I do that then I have done my job. If we get the ball to him then we win.”



Arizona (11-7) at Arizona State (14-3)

Friday: 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: 6:30 p.m. (1290 AM)

Sunday: 11 a.m.

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