Burnett: 'I badly wanted to pitch.'

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A.J. Burnett was on the phone shortly before 4 p.m. and he was not happy. He had a right not to be happy.

My story questioning Burnett's unavailability for Game 5 last night was wrong. He was unavailable. But not because he wanted to be.

I put two and two together and came up with five. I apologized to Burnett and I'm apologizing to the readers.

Burnett said, between expletives, "I wanted to pitch in that game. I wanted badly to pitch in that game."

Burnett said when he arrived at Busch Stadium yesterday he told pitching coach Ray Searage: "If I'm going to pitch Game 1 (of the NLCS), I want to do a side session. If I'm not, I don't want to. I want to be ready to pitch tonight."

Searage told Burnett that Francisco Liriano would be the pitcher used for a long stretch if the game went extra innings and he should do his side session. With that, Burnett did the side session, which ruled him out of Game 5.

I was wrong and I'm not making an excuse for being wrong. But this is what I was thinking:

There was no way manager Clint Hurdle would remove any rested pitcher from the list of those ready to go. The conventional wisdom in MLB is that in elimination games everyone is available.

I apologized to Burnett and told him I would correct my mistake. We parted amicably.

To Burnett's credit, the primary reason he was upset was because, "I don't want the people of Pittsburgh thinking that way about me."

Good for him. Bad for me.

I won't let Hurdle off the hook here, though. I assumed -- incorrectly -- that he would want Burnett in the bullpen because he was rested and because he is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the National League. He leads all starters -- and that includes the likes of Jose Fernandez, Mat Harvey and Steven Strasburg -- in K/9. Why wouldn't you want that guy in the bullpen?

And why wouldn't he want Liriano starting Game 1 of the NLCS? Liriano was the Pirates' best pitcher.

But what I perceived as a logical conclusion -- and which others in the media did based on what Hurdle said -- was incorrect.

I was dead wrong. Feel free to flail away.

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First Published October 10, 2013 12:31 PM


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