A.J. Burnett a Phillie? Not likely

A.J. Burnett a Phillie? Not likely

February 7, 2014, 10:00 am
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Free-agent starter A.J. Burnett led the National League in 2013 with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. (USA Today Images)

Phillies pitchers are less than a week away from their first official workout of the spring.

It does not sound as if A.J. Burnett, or any other remaining free-agent pitcher, will be there when the mitts start popping Thursday morning in Clearwater, Fla.

Citing team policy, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to talk specifically about any remaining free-agent pitchers. He acknowledged that he’s always on the lookout for potential upgrades, but didn’t sound like a guy planning for one in the short term.

“I don’t suspect we’ll be doing anything,” he said Friday. “I think we’ve got what we’ve got. I suspect we’ll go into the season with what we’ve got – or at least spring training with what we’ve got. We’re always looking, always trolling. I know there are guys out there, but I don’t suspect us having anything major coming through.”

Burnett, 37, would qualify as a “major” acquisition. He made $16.5 million last season and could command a salary in that neighborhood after recording a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts for Pittsburgh last season. He led the NL with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Phils have been mentioned as having interest in Burnett for a number of reasons, including their lack of overall pitching depth and Burnett’s desire to pitch close to his Baltimore-area home.

Heading into camp, the Phils have Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee at the top of their rotation. Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez will likely hold down spots with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone vying for the final spot.