If pitcher A.J. Burnett decides he wants to return to the Pirates, they would welcome him back, team president Frank Coonelly said Tuesday.
“We’d like to have A.J. back,” Coonelly said after the Pittsburgh City Council honored the Pirates organization and named Oct. 22, 2013 ‘Pittsburgh Pirate Day.’ “Everybody has made that clear; we’ve made it clear to A.J.”
Burnett appeared on 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.
Coonelly and senior vice president of community and public affairs Patty Paytas accepted the honor from the City Council.
Manager Clint Hurdle was scheduled to attend, but a minor surgical procedure on his knee prevented him from coming, Coonelly said.
Coonelly praised the fans and the city for the atmosphere they created during the Pirates’ 94-win season, which included a wild-card game victory and a trip to the National League Division Series.
“I’ve seen World Series games and postseason games in a lot of great baseball cities,” Coonelly, who previously worked for the commissioner’s office of Major League Baseball, told the council during the presentation. “I never experienced anything like what I experienced during that wild-card game.”
An honor for Hurdle
The Sporting News named Hurdle the National League Manager of the Year.
Hurdle received five of the nine votes cast by fellow NL managers. Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez received three votes, and St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny got one. Hurdle took a team that finished 79-83 in 2012 and led them to a 94 wins, an NL wild-card berth and a loss in five games against St. Louis in the National League Division Series.
Hurdle continued to hone his handling of the bullpen, monitoring their innings and appearances. He also instituted an event at the beginning of a series where he and his coaches discussed the finer points of the previous series and emphasized important issues for the upcoming series.
Boston manager John Farrell won the AL award.
Phillies pursue Benedict
The Pirates granted permission to the Philadelphia Phillies to contact Pirates special assistant to the general manager Jim Benedict about the Phillies’ vacant pitching coach position, ESPN reported Tuesday. Benedict joined the Pirates in 2008 and served as their minor league pitching coordinator in 2010 and 2011. He was instrumental in Charlie Morton’s mechanical changes and rehabilitation from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Mark Melancon also credited Benedict with helping him.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.