A.J. Burnett throws four easy innings in minor league game

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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.

Alex Dickerson to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Alex Dickerson, recently diagnosed with a sprained UCL in his left elbow, will undergo Tommy John surgery near the end of March, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports. Dickerson tried to rehab the injury, but he didn’t show improvement. The surgery will likely end his 2018 season.

Dickerson, 27, missed the entire 2017 season due to a bulging disk in his back, undergoing surgery for that as well. Dickerson performed well in 84 games in 2016, batting .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI across 285 plate appearances.

Dickerson was hoping to earn a spot in the Padres’ crowded outfield, but will now concede that opportunity and hope to turn things around next year.