When A.J. Burnett underwent eye surgery in early March after fracturing his orbital bone during a bunting drill, the Pirates’ doctors guessed that he would be sidelined for 8-12 weeks. But recent reports out of Bradenton, Florida have us thinking the right-hander might beat that timetable altogether.
According to MLB.com’s Tom Singer, Burnett rode a stationary bike and played a light game of catch Saturday in Pirates camp. It was his first workout since the procedure, and he came out of it feeling fine. Originally, the Bucs didn’t think he would be ready for those sort of activities for at least another week.
“Everything went well. I’m happy to be back down here with the guys,” an optimistic Burnett told reporters on Saturday afternoon. “I just got through a pretty good bike routine, so I’ve got some catching up to do. And I worked out a little bit, played some catch. We’ll take it day to day. But, as of right now, it feels good.”
The Pirates acquired Burnett from the Yankees back in mid-February for a couple of minor leaguers and cash considerations. He should be an active member of the Pittsburgh starting rotation by early May.
Austin Romine is starting at catcher and batting ninth for the Yankees in today’s ALCS Game 4 versus the Astros.
Gary Sanchez is still in the lineup, but he’s the DH. That means Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley and Matt Holliday are all on the bench.
Sanchez was lambasted for not holding on to the relay throw in Game 2, allowing Jose Altuve to score the winning run despite getting beat to the plate by the ball by several feet. That, combined with earlier passed balls, led some in the press to lobby for Romine to get the call behind the plate. Those calls tended to ignore the fact that Romine can’t hit a lick and that he is inferior to Sanchez when it comes to gunning down runners. Maybe a ball doesn’t skip by Romine that would have eluded Sanchez, but if I’m Jose Altuve or Alex Bregman or one of the speedier Astros, I’m running wild on Romine any time I get on base today.
The offensive knock is not quite as big a deal at the moment as it normally would be. Sanchez is in an 0-for-16 slump, but Romine isn’t replacing his bat he’s replacing either Ellsbury, Headley or Holliday. None of those guys are hitting at all, so I don’t suppose this is that big of a deal. Discuss amongst yourselves if you’d rather have a guy who is as cold as ice in the lineup who might hit versus a guy you can be pretty sure isn’t gonna hit regardless.
Either way, it’s a different look for the Yankees in Game 4.