A tweet from Pittsburgh Pirates' bench coach Jeff Banister caused quite a stir Monday afternoon, as he essentially wished A.J. Burnett the best of luck in his future endeavors, hoping that the man known as "Batman" in the Bucs clubhouse would fly high once again.
After being retweeted by many covering the Pirates, Banister subsequently deleted the tweet, and although he was tagged, Burnett did not respond.
This is certainly nothing new for followers of the team, as many in the Pirates community have been preparing for Burnett to announce his retirement for some time. The team's signing of Edinson Volquez to a one-year $5 million deal was proof that the front office had moved on from Burnett, although organization leaders were quoted saying that, if he should decide to return, the Pirates would welcome his addition to the squad.
If Burnett decides to formally retire within the next couple of days, he will end his Pirates career with a 26-21 record, 3.41 ERA and 389 strikeouts in 393.1 innings pitched. He will be remembered for his near no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs in 2012 as well as numerous games where he refused to allow a hit until the later innings. On the other end of the spectrum, he will also be remembered for his horrific start against the St. Louis Cardinals in this past year's NLDS as well as the subsequent fallout involving his bullpen session. Also, many will remember Burnett calling out Clint Barmes for being out of position in a game late last season against the Texas Rangers. Burnett shut down the controversy regarding the play in the aftermath of the victory.
Burnett also managed to cause the rosin bag to explode on the mound twice during this past season. The first occasion happened on Opening Day at PNC Park against the Cubs, while the second occurred at Wrigley Field as Burnett was making his first start coming off of the disabled list against the Cubs on July 7.
Burnett's no-nonsense attitude on and off the mound won him many fans over the course of his two years in Pittsburgh. While most pitchers cover their mouths with their glove when discussing on-field matters, Burnett would almost never cover his, allowing for fans to follow along during heated exchanges by lip-reading the entertaining pitcher.
The best of these incidents occurred during a 2012 contest with the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park, where, after striking out Hanley Ramirez, Burnett yelled for Ramirez to "STFD." Burnett would later use the phrase frequently on social media, and had shirts created with the saying.
For fans who were used to seeing the likes of Zach Duke, Josh Fogg and Jimmy Anderson take the mound for the team in recent years, two years of the outspoken, highly productive Burnett was a welcome site every fifth day.
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