CLEARWATER, Fla. — During his introduction as a Philadelphia Phillie today, A.J. Burnett shed some light on his decision to return to pitch.
Burnett said he made the decision because it was best for his wife and two sons. His home in Monkton, Md., is about 90 minutes from Philadelphia.
“This is the first time in my career I made a decision that wasn’t about A.J. Burnett,” he said.
As for his statement to KDKA-FM 93.7 last fall that he would return to the Pirates or retire: “At that point in time, that’s where I was at.”
Burnett signed a one-year deal with $16 million guaranteed. The contract includes a mutual/player option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause. The Pirates offered Burnett $12 million.
Burnett said manager Clint Hurdle’s decision not to start him in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals had no bearing on his decision. He reiterated that he would have preferred to know in advance but said it did not influence his decision.
Burnett said he didn’t give much thought to the lack of a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Pirates, which would have given the organization a compensatory draft pick when Burnett signed in Philadelphia.
“I mean, all due respect, I said I’m going to be done or play for you guys,” he said. “In that regard, why would you, I guess?”
Burnett praised both the Pirates and Phillies for giving him space and allowing him to make the decision at his pace. He did not hear from Cliff Lee, who shares agent Darek Braunecker with Burnett. He did receive a text from Roy Halladay, who shared a rotation with Burnett in Toronto and pitched for the Phillies for the previous four seasons before retiring this winter. Halladay told Burnett his house was available.
“I was like, ‘Hold on,’” Burnett said.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published February 16, 2014 10:05 AM