A.J. Burnett rumors: Pirates pitching coach expects retirement

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Ray Searage is "still waiting" to hear from Burnett, but has said he expects the 37-year-old to retire.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage suspects 15-year veteran A.J. Burnett will retire, according to an interview with CBS Pittsburgh.

Burnett, who has spent the last two seasons with the Pirates, has said that he would either return to Pittsburgh for the 2014 season or retire.

The city took me in, they took me in more than any team in an city has in my whole career, before I even got here, and that was special to me ... My decision is not playing for another team, it’s whether or not I’m going to play period. That decision is going to be based on my family.

Burnett reestablished himself with the team after struggling with the Yankees from 2009 to 2011. Over the last two seasons, he's started 61 games for the Pirates, going 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in nearly 400 innings. He also played an important role in the team's first postseason run since 1992.

The Pirates could look to replace Burnett internally if he decides to retire. They relied heavily on young arms like Gerrit Cole and Jeff Locke last season, and they have respectable options in the minors -- such as Jameson Taillon and Phil Irwin. As it stands now, the rotation would feature Locke and Cole, as well as Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez.

In the interview, Searage also mentioned his work with the existing pitching staff at the Pirates' minor league facility in Bradenton, Fla. He's currently working with free agent reclamation project Edinson Volquez, attempting to "keep things simple" in acclimating him to the team.

If Burnett retires, the Pirates will a few options to chose from in replacing him, but if he decides to pitch in 2014, Pittsburgh still appears to be the only team he would consider.

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