Pittsburgh Pirates Don't Expect A.J. Burnett to Return

By Zach Morrison
A.J. Burnett
Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

“My decision is not playing for another team, it’s whether or not I’m going to play period.” That was Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett a few months ago on a sports-talk radio station in Pittsburgh. It has long been known that Burnett would prefer to return to the Pirates if he doesn’t retire, but other teams don’t seem to care about his comments.

Other than the Pirates, there are a few other teams that have been linked to Burnett over the offseason, including the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles. The Phillies’ interest appears to have died down, but the Orioles are joining the Bucs among teams that are waiting for the veteran’s decision on retirement.

If Burnett does decide to leave the Pirates and sign with the Orioles rather than retire, he will be public enemy number one among the people of Pittsburgh. Whether that would be deserved or not is a question that could be answered on another day; today we will take a look at some comments that were made by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.

Searage joined a radio station in Pittsburgh on Thursday and said that while the team is still patiently waiting on a decision, his gut feeling is that Burnett will retire. The key word there is retire. Searage doesn’t think he will sign elsewhere; he thinks Burnett’s career is over. While Searage probably wouldn’t be able to predict Burnett’s decision as accurately as someone who is actively involved in talks with the veteran pitcher, such as general manager Neal Huntington or manager Clint Hurdle, it is still interesting to hear someone’s prediction from inside the organization.

If Burnett does decide to retire, the impact will certainly be felt on the Pirates’ roster. Replacing Burnett would be southpaw Jeff Locke or Edinson Volquez — certainly a significant downgrade. While losing Burnett isn’t going to help the Pirates in 2014, it also won’t be as big a loss as it would seem.

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