Pirates players deny lobbying for Burnett’s return

Several Pirates players laughed off a widely-circulated report that they have been lobbying for the club to reacquire right-hander A.J. Burnett from Philadelphia.

The report, by FOX-TV’s Ken Rosenthal, crawled across the clubhouse big-screen TV tuned to the MLB Network on Tuesday night, prompting double-takes from several players.

“I haven’t even heard anyone bring up A.J.’s name here,” said left-hander Jeff Locke, the closest of Burnett’s teammates during his two years in Pittsburgh. “To lobby would mean approaching management. I’m not sure how you’d do that.”

“We have enough to do just playing the game, taking care of our business,” said Andrew McCutchen. “If something like that happens, fine. But we can’t be concerned with it ahead of time.”

None of this is to firmly say sentiment for Burnett’s return has not been raised in the Bucs’ clubhouse; not all players were questioned. And if the reunion does occur, he would be welcomed.

“A.J. is such a hard worker and tough competitor. I think he’s leading the league in starts (Burnett was tied with several others with 21 starts before making his 22nd start Wednesday night),” Locke said. “He’s had some off days, but everyone has those.”

Speaking of not lobbying — Burnett himself has said he is not asking the Phillies for a trade, but would be good with it if it happened. And he did say his preferred destination would be a return to Pittsburgh — where two weeks ago he was saluted with a big-board “Thank You” video when he took the mound to face the Pirates.

Tom Singer

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