Burnett not thinking about possible All-Star Game invite
PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett has graced Major League mounds since 1999, has a no-hitter and a World Series ring, has won 161 games, and punched out 2,444 batters. Yet those 17 years are remarkably devoid of any honors.
That is likely to change next month, when the 38-year-old right-hander becomes a first-time All-Star. In mid-June, however, that likelihood is the furthest thing from his mind.
"No … I'm just trying to get through Friday," Burnett said, alluding to his next assignment for the Pirates, facing the Nationals in Washington. "It would be something cool, but I've said it before: I'm not here for my own achievements. I just want us to win more games when I'm on the mound than not, and to do my job."
Burnett's credentials for that All-Star honor are impeccable, his 6-2 record accompanied by an ERA of 1.89, which is second best in MLB. And he's got something even better than that going for him: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle has a long-running, tight, symbiotic relationship with Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager who will assemble and guide the 2015 National League All-Star team in the 86th edition of the Midsummer Classic on July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. As is customary, Bochy will seek worthy nominations from his fellow managers, and he'll listen to Hurdle's pitches.
Bochy did in 2013, the last time he managed the All-Stars as the 2012 World Series winner: That summer, the Bucs had a 53-year high of five All-Stars in Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and pitchers Jeff Locke, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon.
McCutchen, currently 5th among NL outfielders in the All-Star voting, seems a lock for his fifth straight All-Star berth through the players' vote. The players also vote for pitchers, and lefty Tony Watson and Gerrit Cole are likely to get their support.
Beyond that, the All-Star manager fills in any blanks, and Hurdle will put a bug in Bochy's ears about three of his other players if not elected by peers: Catcher Francisco Cervelli, left fielder Starling Marte, and Burnett.
For any veteran performing decently in his announced final season, an All-Star acknowledgement would be a consideration. For someone performing as spectacularly as Burnett, it is a slam dunk.
"It'd be nice, but I can't worry about it," Burnett said. "It's out of my hands. All that other stuff is out of my control."