A.J. Burnett’s dud could end career on a sour note

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Despite another strong season in which he posted a 3.30 ERA and finished fifth in the NL with 209 strikeouts, free-agent-to-be A.J. Burnett is contemplating retirement this winter. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll want to go out like that, though.

Burnett was blasted for seven runs in two-plus innings Thursday in the Pirates’ Game 1 loss to the Cardinals. After starting off with a pair of scoreless innings, he retired none of the seven hitters he faced in the third.

The outing left the 36-year-old Burnett 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA in eight postseason starts. He has two World Series rings anyway. The first came with the Marlins in 2003, though he didn’t pitch in October that year after Tommy John surgery. He also got one in 2009, when the Yankees won in spite of his struggles. Burnett did pitch well in his previous postseason start in the 2011 ALDS against the Tigers, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings and picking up a win.

The Pirates will probably go back to Burnett in Game 5 against the Cardinals if the series gets that far, though they’d certainly have him on a shorter leash in that one than they did today. Game 2 starter, Gerrit Cole, would also be able to pitch Game 5 on normal rest, which could set up a tough decision if Cole excels tomorrow. The Pirates are going to need him to if they’re going to have much of a shot at coming back in the series.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”