The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a lot of changes over the last calendar year. Could they look to bring a former player in to Spring Training?
Lat offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in the market for a new manager and pitching coach. A lot of different names were thrown out there, from local connections, former players, and coaches from other teams. In the end, the Bucs went the external route and hired Derek Shelton and Oscar Morin to fill the two vacancies.
One name that was brought up was AJ Burnett. Since retiring, Burnett still keeps himself involved with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is very active on social media and continues to post things about the organization that he meant so much to. Some thought with a new Front Office, and therefore a new approach, that AJ Burnett could be a candidate for one of the positions. Burnett has always said he would be interested in getting back into the game one day.
According to Rob Biertempfel, The Athletics beat writer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Burnett may get an opportunity to start instructing. Recently, Biertempfel sat down with Burnett to discuss his name appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot. Naturally, the conversation went in a few directions. Biertempfel asked Burnett if he ever considered going to Spring Training as a guest instructor:
"I’d come down there for a couple of weeks in the spring. I don’t know if I’m ready to get back in the game yet as far as (full-time) coaching, though. But I do think there’s some stuff I could (teach) some guys. I feel I can make people better."
So it seems that Burnett has the Pittsburgh Pirates organization on the back of his mind. This would be great to see him become more involved, which is something he admitted to Biertempfel later in the story. He said that team owner Bob Nutting wants to have him around the team more, which makes sense. After all, Burnett helped lead the Bucs out of last place before.
Who knows what will happen. This could lead to him gaining a more permanent role down the road. Burnett says that he is interested in getting into coaching one day, but not yet, as he wants to wait until after his kids are grown. Once again, this makes sense as toward the end of his career, Burnett was adamant on staying around, or as close to, his home in Maryland as possible.