Frank Coonelly: Pirates would welcome A.J. Burnett back

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If A.J. Burnett decides he wants to return to the Pirates, the team would welcome him back, team president Frank Coonelly said today.

"We'd like to have A.J. back," Coonelly said after the Pittsburgh City Council honored the Pirates organization and named Oct. 22 'Pittsburgh Pirate Day.' "Everybody has made that clear, we've made it clear to A.J."

Burnett appeared on KDKA-FM 93.7 The Fan Monday night and said he was deciding whether to re-sign with the Pirates or retire.

"He's got a decision to make, first and foremost, whether it's time for him to spend more time with his family or whether he thinks he can go another year," Coonelly said. "If he decides that he wants to come back, we definitely want A.J. back."

The 36-year-old Burnett's five-year, $82.5 million contract expired this season and he will be a free agent after the World Series. Burnett compiled a 3.30 ERA in 191 innings this season and struck out 209 batters, the second-highest total of his career.

Councilman Corey O'Connor sponsored the resolution honoring the Pirates. Coonelly and senior vice president of community and public affairs Patty Paytas accepted the honor. Manager Clint Hurdle was scheduled to attend, but a minor knee procedure prevented him from coming, Coonelly said.

Coonelly praised the fans and the city for the atmosphere they created during the Pirates' 94-win season.

"I've seen World Series games and postseason games in a lot of great baseball cities," Coonelly, who previously served as the senior vice president and general counsel of labor for Major League Baseball, told City Council during the presentation. "I never experienced anything like what I experienced during that wild-card game."

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