SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates' Jeromy Burnitz spent much of this six-game road trip in an unfamiliar place to see some unfamiliar faces.
A place he sometimes calls home.
A place that, perhaps, he soon will be visiting much more often.
"I've thought about the questions: Am I going to retire? Am I going to play in some capacity?" Burnitz said yesterday. "Well, first, you have to see if there's going to be some kind of offer from somebody. And, after a year like this, it's not a foregone conclusion."
No doubt about that.
Burnitz, 37, is batting .232 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs and has been relegated to bench duty the past four months. He rarely has picked up a bat in September, making only six plate appearances. Not much bang for the Pirates' $6.7 million investment there and, seemingly, not much cause for another team to come calling next year.
If Burnitz's phone were to not ring this winter, though, it does not sound as if he would be crushed. He has spent every free minute of this trip with his wife, Krissy, and three young children, Chloe, Grace and Jake. That includes making a daily two-hour drive each way from Los Angeles earlier in the week.
"I'm prepared to go either way," he said. "The one thing I can tell you is that, when I'm done doing this, I'm not doing anything else. I'm going to stay right there at that house and be the best father I can be."
Joe Randa, 36, is in a similar spot. He contemplated retirement last winter but emerged when the Pirates came calling with a $4 million offer. He, too, has two young children, Jacob and Justin, at home in Kansas.
He is not prepared to make a decision.
"This season's been such a mess that I'm going to need at least three, four weeks to sort things out," Randa said. "I'm at the stage of my career that, if the situation's right, I talk it over with the family. If it doesn't ... there's nothing to talk about. I'm not a guy who wants to play the game until they kick me out. I enjoy baseball, but I enjoy my family more."
Randa is batting .261 with four home runs and 28 RBIs since losing his starting duty to Freddy Sanchez in May.
Sanchez's wrist ailing
Sanchez was scratched from the starting lineup against the San Diego Padres yesterday because of what he described as "just a tweak" in his left wrist. He said he first felt it Friday in the series opener and that he "probably shouldn't have played" Saturday.
He went 0 for 8 in those two games, then grounded out as a pinch-hitter yesterday to drop his National League-best average to .342. The Florida Marlins' Miguel Cabrera is second at .336.
Sanchez and the Pirates are off today before the season-ending six-game homestand.
Coaching staff back
General manager Dave Littlefield yesterday revealed he has invited the entire coaching staff back for 2007. That includes pitching coach Jim Colborn, hitting coach Jeff Manto, third-base coach Jeff Cox, first-base coach John Shelby, bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar and roving instructor Rusty Kuntz.
Littlefield praised the staff for the Pirates' second-half improvement.
"The staff is tied to the performance of the players, as is the general manager," he said. "We're very pleased with the way we've seen our young guys growing. We've got a long way to go toward our goal of winning a world championship, but the second half certainly has been very positive."
Manager Jim Tracy will be entering the second year of a three-year contract.
Tracy used Salomon Torres in the eighth inning -- a non-save situation -- in a clear attempt to move him closer to Kent Tekulve's franchise record of 94 appearances. Torres has 91.
Left fielder Jason Bay returned after missing one game to a stomach virus.
Randa was booed loudly at Petco Park Saturday night, less than 24 hours after foiling Chris Young's no-hitter. When was the last time he took such grief? "The last time I came in on a double-switch for Freddy."