MLB Sunday Insider: The wide world of waivers

Pitcher Alex Burnett is with his third organization since spring training, trying to work his way back to the majors.


Alex Burnett made 174 relief appearances for the Twins from 2010 to 2012 before being let go in spring training. He is currently pitching for the Baltimore Orioles’ top farm club.

Photo: File photo by KYNDELL HARKNESS • ,

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Norfolk, Va., is not his preferred destination, but at least Alex Burnett has been able to slow down and catch his breath.

“I’m good ... now,’’ he said on Friday.

Just over a month ago, Burnett was in Fort Myers, Fla., trying to solidify his place in the Twins bullpen. That bid failed (7.56 spring ERA), which started a few crazy weeks for the 25-year-old righthander as he got caught up in Toronto’s waiver madness.

Since March 16, the Blue Jays have either claimed a player off waivers or designated one for assignment 16 times. Since last October, they have landed 20 players through waivers. They are one organization that keeps a spot open on its 40-man roster as much as possible.

In many cases, Toronto has claimed a player and then designated him for assignment, trying to sneak him through waivers so it can send him to the minors. It’s an inexpensive way ($20,000 per claim) to build depth and beef up minor league teams. But it could also turn a player’s life upside down. Take Burnett’s case.

First, Burnett was cut from spring training — a move that not everyone with the club was on board with. Then the Twins tried to move him through waivers to take him off the 40-man roster. Toronto claimed him on March 29 and optioned him to Class AAA Buffalo, a move it could make because at the time he was on the 40-man roster.

But then Toronto designated him for assignment on April 10 to remove him from the 40-man, and he was claimed by the Orioles, who then optioned him to Class AAA Norfolk. On the move again.

“That’s the biggest part of the whole thing,’’ Burnett told at the time. “I had my wife with me in spring training, she’s pregnant, so that made it even worse. Otherwise she’d be with me right now. We had to go to Dunedin and I said, ‘You know what, honey? Everything is crazy right now, go home.’ I didn’t want her flying all over the place with me and moving.

“I had to break a lease in Minnesota because I figured I was going to be there, I had to get out of a lease in Buffalo, I had to get my car shipped from Minnesota to Buffalo, now I have to get it from Buffalo to God knows where right now. Yeah, it’s been a very crazy few weeks.”

Then Burnett was called up from Norfolk to Baltimore on April 22 and sent back down two days later. He’s thrown 7 ⅓ scoreless innings with Norfolk and would love to be called up in time for the Orioles’ visit to Target Field on Friday. Baltimore’s bullpen, however, entered the weekend with the fifth-best ERA in baseball.

His wife, Bridgette, is due Aug. 9. She’s in town for a visit now that things have stabilized.

“It was an eye-opener for me,’’ Burnett said of his situation, “something I’ve never been through but something I’ll definitely grow from.’’



Central Intelligence

Kansas City was expected to be much improved this season with the additions of starting pitchers James Shields and Ervin Santana and a maturing core of position players. And the Royals entered the weekend percentage points ahead of Detroit in the division.

The Royals have had winning Aprils in three of the past five seasons, but there is a different feeling with this group. Pitching will do that to a club.

“Your April record means more if you don’t do good,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “It’s hard to dig out of an early hole. Right now, all it means is that we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve got so much of the season still ahead.”

The Twins don’t face the Royals again until June 4-6.

• • •

The great Miguel Cabrera entered the weekend batting .373. Last year he became the seventh righthanded hitter to win back-to-back batting titles since Rogers Hornsby won six in a row from 1920 to 1925. No righthanded hitter since Hornsby has won three straight, so Cabrera’s bid will make for interesting viewing.

• • •

In his first game facing his former White Sox teammates, catcher A.J. Pierzynski on Wednesday was hit by reliever Addison Reed in the ninth inning. Pierzynski glared at Reed on his way to first base. No one believed it was intentional, even if it involved A.J.
“I wouldn’t be too happy, either, if I got hit any time,’’ Reed said. “It’s part of the game.’’
Three observations ...

• Cubs owner Tom Ricketts should be allowed to renovate Wrigley Field the way he wants, especially if he’s putting his money up to do it.

• Who cares if Jack Morris is right or wrong. Accusing Clay Buchholz of throwing a spitter is entertaining stuff.
• Just think how bad things would be for the Dodgers’ rotation if Hyun-Jin Ryu hadn’t made a smooth transition from the Korean Professional Baseball League.

... and two predictions

• The White Sox will finish last in the AL Central because they have no pitching depth to make up for the injuries they are dealing with.
• San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum will be demoted to the bullpen in order to rediscover his form.


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Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
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Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
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San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
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So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
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So Florida
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Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
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Virginia Tech
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(19) Wisconsin
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Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
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East Carolina
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Wake Forest
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(21) BYU
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Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
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San Jose 1
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