Pregame: A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd return to PNC Park

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett returned to PNC today for the first time since game four of the National League Division Series.

Burnett returns

When A.J. Burnett walked into the visiting dugout and saw the throng of media waiting for him, he acted surprised and jokingly wondered if everyone was there to talk about his nifty looking red, white and blue cleats.

While reporters crowded a rounded him, Burnett looked out at the field.

"Feels like the wrong dugout. It's right, but it's wrong."

In an intriguing pitching matchup, Burnett will face off against his friend Jeff Locke on Sunday. He said that he is "one hundred percent" looking forward to the game and that over the off season the two of them talked about how "cool" it would be pitch against each other.

"[Locke] also had a dream that he bunted on me and I yelled at him. We'll see if that comes true or not, too."

Burnett said it is a great to see the season that Locke is having and that he always knew the left-hander had the stuff to stick in the big leagues. Asked if thought Locke was extra "crafty" this season, Burnett laughed.

"Don't tell him I said that. He isn't crafty. He doesn't get mad a lot, but call him crafty and he'll get mad."

Burnett said that his best memories from his time in Pittsburgh are "stopping the [losing] drought and having a winning season."

"Also, I've mentioned this before, [I remember] in 2012 after I ran off nine straight wins, when I was walking off the field after bad start against Houston, I don't think I got out of the fifth, I got a standing ovation running off the field."

Burnett expects a "mixed" reception when he comes out to pitch on Sunday.

"The way I look at it, if they're going to boo that means they came out because they still care. They don't boo you to love you. They love you, to boo you."

Asked if he had any reaction to the rumors that the Pirates might be interested in reacquiring him, Burnett said he hasn't given it any thought.

"I'm a Phillie right now, so that's where my mind is. I can't predict the future and I don't [have a specific] hope for the future. I'm day-by-day and this is my team and this is who I'm [pitching] for ... whatever happens, happens."

Finally, the former Pirate said that the organization was very "respectful" to him over the off season and that there was an open line of communication throughout the winter.

"Obviously from their stand point, it wasn't easy. I had no idea what I wanted to do. And [the Pirates] were trying to make a decision, not only about me, but about their future. It had to be tough to wait me out like they did. They waited and they handled everything, I have a lot of respect for the Pirates."

Byrd has fond memories of time with Pirates

Marlon Byrd met with reporters in the Phillies' clubhouse before the game and described his time in Pittsburgh as "awesome."

"I had such a good time. It is good to be back. These fans are always great."

Perhaps anticipating the upcoming trade market and the opportunities it could provide for him to join a contender, Byrd said that his time with the Bucs proved that he can be more than a "regular season guy."

"Same as last year," Byrd said of his approach to the trade deadline this season. "Every single day I'm going to try win games for the Phillies and let Ruben Amaro and the front office do what they have to do."

Byrd clearly has a lot of fond memories of his time Pittsburgh.

"[I loved] every single second. The black out, the play in game [stands out the most]. All the fans came out chanting Cueto's name, him dropping the ball. Russ Martin hitting two home runs. That was special."

"It was a great experience playing in this city," Byrd continued. "Seeing everyone wear Pittsburgh Pirates jerseys instead of Steelers jerseys in September was very different for this city. I take that with me."

Finally, he was asked what he thought of the start of Gregory Polanco's major league career.

"Impressive ... If people didn't understand at the time why the Pirates didn't sign me back, I think they know why now."

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