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.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.