Yesterday, Pirates starter A.J. Burnett told the media that he is still mulling retirement, then went out and struck out 12 Reds in a seven-inning performance that put the Pirates back in a tie for the NL Wild Card.
Today, via Rob Biertempfel on Twitter, Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that if Burnett isn’t retiring, he will do “everything in our power” to bring Burnett back for the 2014 season. Burnett turns 37 on January 3 and will have wrapped up a five-year, $82.5 million contract originally given to him by the Yankees. A one-year deal would likely rival the average annual value of his last contract ($16.5 million).
Burnett has been a big reason why the Pirates ended their winning season drought as he currently has a 3.39 ERA with a league-leading and career-high K/9 at exactly 10 in 183 innings.
Biertempfel also notes that Burnett would line up second behind Francisco Liriano in the team’s playoff rotation.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.