Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates GM Says Club Wants Burnett Back

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates GM Says Club Wants Burnett Back

Article excerpt

If baseball hangs onto A.J. Burnett one more season, he's likely to return in Pirates black and gold.

Burnett will be a top priority for the Pirates to bring back in 2014, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. Burnett has indicated the feeling is mutual if he doesn't retire.

"We will do everything within our power to keep A.J. here," Huntington said. "And our goal is to have A.J. as a Pittsburgh Pirate next year, absolutely."

Burnett punctuated a strong year with a masterful 12-strikeout performance Saturday night and the feedback from him has been positive, Huntington said.

"That he's loved it here. [He] felt wanted and welcome here both publicly and privately, meaning both by the fans and in our clubhouse," Huntington said. "And if he decides to continue to pitch he absolutely has an open mind for Pittsburgh and would love to finish his career as a Pirate. We'd love to continue that dialogue."

As for trade deadline additions Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd and John Buck? Huntington was far less committal.

"It's all matter of moving the pieces and parts to the puzzle," Huntington said. "We've got X number of dollars to spend, some guys internally who will continue to get more money in arbitration, how we do we put these parts of the puzzle together?

"We'd love them all to return. That's not going to be financially possible. That's the reality of small- to mid-markets. We're going to have to make some tough choices."


Huntington said a four-man pitching rotation is the likely route for the Pirates in the postseason.

That includes Francisco Liriano, Burnett, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole and leaves off All-Star Jeff Locke, who has been challenged the second half and was chased Sunday after a five-run first inning.

"Our challenge is we've got four guys we feel completely comfortable winning against any team in baseball," Huntington said. "Charlie's throwing the ball great. Gerrit is throwing the ball phenomenal here in his last handful of outings. A.J. [had a] great start [Saturday] night, probably his best of the year and Liriano continues to be lights out for the most part."

Huntington said if the schedule requires a need for Locke, he is confident handing the ball to his former All-Star. …

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