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Biertempfel: Some Pirates enjoy special perks

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, April 20, 2012
 

There are three oversized lockers in the visitors` clubhouse at Chase Field in Phoenix. When the Pirates were encamped there this week, one of the extra-large lockers went to Rod Barajas, who earned the perk by being the most veteran player on the team.

The other two lockers were occupied by two guys who aren`t even on the active roster — Scott 'Bones' Bonnett and A.J. Burnett.

Bonnett deserved — and desperately needed — the spacious area. He`s the club`s equipment manager, and his locker was surrounded by stacks of boxes, a pile of bats and scads of other gear. He`s constantly in motion, moving items from the clubhouse to the batting cage to the field and back again. The only time I saw Bones sit down on the cushy chair in front of his locker was when he paused to tie his shoes.

Burnett arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday, before the second game of the series. He`s still on a rehab assignment, recovering from surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone. Burnett also is a marquee veteran, so Bones set him up in the locker next to his good friend Barajas.

Burnett won`t be activated off the disabled list until next week. He went to Phoenix to work out in front of pitching coach Ray Searage and, perhaps most important, reconnect with his teammates. Remember, Burnett was in spring camp less than a week before injuring his face with an errant bunt.

'I need to be around the guys,' Burnett said. 'I need to be around my team, my (coaching) staff, my catcher. Sometimes you need to be back up here to be able to flip that switch.'

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