A.J. Burnett throws first side session since surgery to repair orbital fracture

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It’s not clear when A.J. Burnett will make his Pirates’ debut, but he took a step in the right direction this morning in Bradenton, Florida.

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Burnett threw 30 pitches — all fastballs — during his first side session since undergoing surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone in his right eye on March 2.

Burnett told Kovacevic that he’s dealing with some swelling, but isn’t having any problems with his vision. He’s currently focused on building up his arm strength and is scheduled to throw another bullpen session Monday.

“I felt a little better than I thought I would strength-wise,” Burnett said. “Things have been going well. We’re on the right track.”

Burnett was estimated to miss two to three months following surgery, so he’ll likely won’t join the Pirates’ starting rotation until May or June.

Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.