Agent concerned Burnett made costly mistake

Updated: September 27, 2005, 6:42 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett apologized Tuesday for the comments that led to his banishment, and with free agency looming, his agent conceded the episode could be costly.

A.J. Burnett
Starting Pitcher
Florida Marlins
Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA
32 12 12 79 198 3.44

Manager Jack McKeon told Burnett 30 minutes before Monday's game to leave. The right-hander will continue to be paid but won't be with the Marlins the final week of the season.

The move came after Burnett lost his sixth decision in a row Sunday, then said the Marlins play scared because McKeon and his staff are too negative.

"I have always been a very passionate player and person," Burnett said in a statement Tuesday released by agent Darek Braunecker. "I often wear my emotions on my sleeve, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. I hope that my teammates always respect that of me, as I trust they know my commitment to winning.

"For those I've offended, I offer my most sincere apologies."

Burnett's contract expires this week, and general manager Larry Beinfest said the Marlins won't attempt to re-sign him. That was unlikely to happen anyway, given Florida's financial constraints and the market for Burnett.

He might be the top pitcher available -- or perhaps not, given his recent losing streak and outburst.

"He made a decision that's probably a bad decision, and he's feeling the repercussions of making the statement when he did," Braunecker said.

"I'm not naive that the statement or his performance in the past 30 days aren't going to be an issue. He's going to have to answer those questions face to face with his potential suitors. We'll be prepared to address it, and it'll all work out."

The 28-year-old Burnett has long been regarded as an underachiever. He won seven consecutive starts in July and August but pitched poorly during the heat of the playoff race and finished 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA. His most recent win came Aug. 19.

He missed almost all of the 2003 season after reconstructive elbow surgery, and his career record is a modest 49-50, all with Florida. But he's one of the few pitchers with a 98-mph fastball and a no-hitter on his résumé.

"You just hope in the next situation, there's a better working relationship," Braunecker said.

Burnett chafed all season at McKeon's gruff personality and conservative game strategy, but waited until the Marlins were virtually eliminated from playoff contention to sound off.

"It's easy to say stuff like that when there's only a week to go in the season," teammate Todd Jones said. "A.J.'s a free spirit. He's got to live with his comments."

Burnett was acquired by the Marlins in 1998 and made his major league debut the following season.

"He was here for so long, it's a shame this is how it has to end," teammate Josh Beckett said. "Obviously something was really bugging him."

Rookie Josh Johnson, a candidate for the 2006 rotation, will take Burnett's turn Friday against Atlanta. Johnson threw four shutout innings against Saturday against the Braves.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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