Burnett on the brink — then what?

A.J. Burnett could be less than two weeks away from joining the Pirates’ rotation — putting him right on target for the early end of the 8-to-12 week recovery window he’d been given following his March 2 surgery.

Burnett is due to join the club tonight in time to take in the game against the D-backs in Chase Field, fresh off his rocky but start Monday night in Indianapolis.

The plan is for Burnett to be examined by the team’s medical staff, travel back East with the Bucs and throw a side under pitching coach Ray Searage’s watch, make one more rehab start on Saturday with Class-AA Altoona — then hook up with the Pirates.

Manager Clint Hurdle said he hasn’t been even “penciled” into the rotation yet. The scenario will be re-visited following that fourth, and final, rehab start.

This is definitely an odd situation for the Pirates. whose last need would appear to be rotation help. The five current starters have been nails, yet to allow more than three runs in any of their starts. And, of course, Burnett’s arrival would have to mean the exclusion of a current starter.

The original design was for a starter to be moved to the bullpen – -someone like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia — but the current Pirates relievers have been even more effective than the starters.

Sounds like GM Neal Huntington faces some big decisions, with Hurdle’s input. A trade is very much possible — several Major League teams have already suffered key losses to their bullpens and loom as logical trade partners.


  1. Pingback: A.J. Burnett has just one more rehab start to go | HardballTalk
  2. John Corfield

    I agree with Bob, we need hitters. However, the way to get good hitters is to trade a good pitcher. So far, we have five, not counting A.J. yet. But, management didn’t get him to trade him; they see him as a definite starter. That means, a current starter needs to be moved to the Pen. However, Hurdle likes the pen the way it is. Therefore, we may be considering one of the current starters as expendable. The question is, “Who?” If Karstens has a serious shoulder injury, that may buy some time before making a trade. I definitely think management is already considering one.

  3. James

    We definitely need a bat. With Karstens out, AJ will take his spot. The trade option won’t be too likely this time of year. I wouldn’t expect anything at least until Karstens is back.

  4. Tom Flowers

    I hear everyone’s concern about pitching not being our greatest concern. As far as hitting goes, can someone weigh in on whether it is our hitters or our hitting coach? Why are we so terrible – are our players so inept or is it how they are being trained?

    • mlblogstomsinger1

      I dunno, but might be a little too early to try to figure out where to place blame. Heck, blame the weather. Fact: Bucs have played in two warm-weather spots all year. Florida; were one of top hitting teams in Grapefruit League. Arizona; won 2 of 3. Simple, naive view? Sure. But let’s see what happens once they get into the “swing” of things.

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