Right-handed pitcher A.J. Burnett’s career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who he was recently traded to from the New York Yankees, has gotten off to a painful start after he underwent surgery on March 2 for a broken right orbital bone. Burnett suffered the injury during a bunting competition with his new team when a ball he bunted took off from the bat and hit him just below the eye. It’s estimated that he’ll be out of action for between two and three months.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Randall Beatty, who said Burnett’s recovery will be completed in three stages. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said the first step is to let the bone heal while the second step will be to recondition his body and arm. The final stage will see Burnett go through his own personal spring training process to prepare himself for the season. If all goes well Huntington figures Burnett should be back on the mound competing by May or June.

Burnett was hoping to refresh his career in Pittsburgh after struggling somewhat with the Yankees, even though he won a World Series ring with them in 2009. In reality, he’ll likely miss just four to eight weeks of the upcoming MLB season since it’s still four weeks away from opening day, which is on April 5.

Huntington said Burnett won’t be rushed during the recovery process since some people just naturally heal faster than others. He said it’ll take the team is prepared to wait as long as it takes until he’s ready to pitch again. It’s also possible that Burnett could suffer some after affects of the surgery such as tissue and nerve damage as well as double-vision. However, Dr. Beatty said the patient seemed to be in pretty good shape after the operation.

Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle said the team will miss Burnett. But he believes they have enough pitching depth to cover the injury and feels they’ll do fine without him because of this. He said the club’s starters and bullpen are more than capable of doing the job. He added that Burnett’s injury will give the other pitchers the chance to show management what they can do during spring training and the exhibition game schedule.

Huntington stated that the Pirates didn’t have Burnett on their roster three weeks ago, so they won’t really know what they’re missing anyway until he works himself into the rotation. He said when he’s healthy he’ll simply make the club stronger and better than it is now, but in the meantime it’s business as usual. He said the competition for Burnett’s spot should pick up now and somebody will likely step up and grab the bull by the horns to take it.

Huntington listed rookie Brad Lincoln, free-agent signing Erik Bedard, and returning pitchers Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, and James McDonald as those who will be fighting for a spot in the starting rotation.

Written by Ian Palmer via FeedCrossing, Content News Source

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