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Pirates notebook: Phillies' Burnett not demanding trade

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 8:18 p.m.
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett is not lobbying the Philadelphia Phillies to trade him back to the Pirates.

A source close to the situation said Burnett would welcome a return to Pittsburgh but neither has demanded a trade nor specified a possible destination.

Fox baseball writer Ken Rosenthal on Tuesday posted on Twitter that Burnett, if traded, preferred the Pirates.

Burnett's contract includes a no-trade clause for every team except the Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals.

Burnett signed a $16 million deal with the Phillies last spring. He went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA over two seasons with the Pirates, who declined to give him a $14.1 million qualifying offer after the 2013 season.

The right-hander still is owed about $7.5 million in salary this season, plus deferred bonus payments of $2.75 million in January and $3.75 million in June.

Burnett, who is 6-9 with a 4.08 ERA in 21 starts this season, will get $1.75 million in bonuses if he makes nine more starts. His contract also has a $15 million mutual option for 2015 that becomes a $7.5 million player option if the team doesn't trigger its half. That option can rise to $12.75 million if Burnett reaches 32 starts.

If the Phillies opt to rebuild, they'll likely be willing to eat some contract dollars to facilitate trades.

In April, Burnett, 37, was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and probably will have surgery this offseason.

Polanco needs balance

After sitting out Monday, right fielder Gregory Polanco rode an 0-for-11 skid into Tuesday's game. During that stretch, he struck out three times and hit only three balls out of the infield.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Polanco is out of balance at the plate.

“It's that old saying that you probably first heard if you played Little League, ‘Hit the ball hard where it's pitched. Keep your head on the ball,' ” Hurdle said. “One thing we always remind (slumping) players is to hold your head in position. When you go to hit it, leave your head there. He needs to be mindful of finishing his swing and looking for good, firm contact where the ball is pitched.”

Marte takes a seat

Left fielder Starling Marte was benched Tuesday, and Travis Snider, a left-handed batter, started against Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett.

“Manager's decision,” Hurdle said. “I've been trying to get the bench guys in periodically after the break to get them some at-bats to keep them fresh.”

In 264 at-bats against righties this season, Marte has a .258 batting average, .329 on-base percentage and .390 slugging percentage. Snider has a .229 batting average, .315 OBP and .347 slugging percentage in 144 at-bats.

Marte said he's healthy enough to play regularly again after being beaned Friday by a 93 mph fastball. He made his first start since the incident Monday and went 0 for 4. Over his past 27 games, Marte is hitting .309, including seven doubles, two triples and one home run.

Selig backs replay

Commissioner Bud Selig, who's on a farewell tour of sorts before leaving office when his term expires in January, attended Tuesday's game at PNC Park.

Before the game, Selig endorsed the expanded instant replay system MLB put in place this season.

“It's worked out great,” said Selig, who noted he used to be a replay opponent. “Yes, it needs to be tweaked a little bit here and there. We're down to a minute, 57 seconds (for the average review), and I think that's good. I'm really satisfied with it. I think it's been great, and we're getting it right.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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