Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett took another step forward Sunday morning in his ongoing recovery from a fractured right orbital bone, throwing 54 pitches across four innings in an exhibition game between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
According to MLB.com’s Tom Singer, Burnett let up one hit and threw 36 of his 54 pitches for strikes.
The 35-year-old will toss a side session Tuesday before opening the regular season with a rehab start April 6 at Single-A Bradenton. If he avoid setbacks, he should join Pittsburgh’s rotation by the end of April.
Burnett was acquired from the Yankees in February for a couple of minor leaguers and cash considerations. He registered a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173/83 K/BB ratio in 190 1/3 innings last year for New York.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.