From beat writer Tom Singer of MLB.com comes word that right-hander A.J. Burnett is scheduled to join the Pirates’ starting rotation after making one final rehab start Saturday at Double-A Altoona.
Burnett has been on the shelf since suffering a fractured right orbital bone while performing a bunting drill in spring training. He’s made three minor league rehab starts thus far, and hasn’t experienced any lingering issues in or around his right eye.
The 35-year-old was acquired from the Yankees in February for a couple of minor leaguers and cash. He posted a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173/83 K/BB ratio in 190 1/3 innings last year for New York.
Asked today about Brent Morel’s continued presence in the No. 2 spot in the order despite a .103/.161/.138 line to date, White Sox manager Robin Ventura replied:
He’s going to stay there. He just needs to be a little more aggressive in the zone and things will turn around.
So, Morel, who has walked twice and struck out 13 times in 29 at-bats this season, just needs to be more aggressive. Never mind that he’s racking up swinging strikes at 170 percent of the major league average thus far or that he is now sporting a lifetime .278 on-base percentage in 507 major league at-bats.
Actually, what the White Sox apparently really need is for Morel to bunt more. The lone major leaguer with three sacrifices on the season, he’s reached on an error on two of those plays.
Justin Upton’s thumb injury is suddenly looking like a bigger deal. FOXSportsArizona’s Jack Magruder reports that he’ll get an MRI and see a hand specialist. A DL stint is a possibility.
Upton was a trendy pick to win NL MVP honors this year after busting out for 31 homers as a 23-year-old last season. However, with the thumb limiting him, he’s opened this season with a .212 average and no RBI through 10 games.
Fortunately, the Diamondbacks have the depth to cover an Upton injury. While many rallied against the team’s signing of Jason Kubel over the winter, it did turn Gerardo Parra into the league’s best fourth outfielder. He can play regularly in right field for however long Upton is out. If the Diamondbacks hadn’t signed Kubel, they might well have been left playing Willie Bloomquist in the outfield and John McDonald at shortstop for the duration of Upton’s absence. The Triple-A options (David Winfree, A.J. Pollock and Cole Gillespie) aren’t very attractive.
Update: An MRI on Kelly’s elbow came back negative, MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Kelly will go to extended spring training for a two-week rehab and could rejoin Triple-A Tucson afterwards.
Casey Kelly, who was considered the prize of the Adrian Gonzalez deal when the Padres acquired him from the Red Sox, is having a sore elbow examined in San Diego.
Kelly, 22, was something of a disappointment in Double-A last year, but he was off to a fantastic start this season. Not only did he have a 2.25 ERA in two starts, but he had struck out 14 and walked none in 12 innings.
Dan Hayes of the North County Times says Kelly checked out fine when examined initially after the soreness, but that the Padres wanted an MRI and for their own doctors to look at him.
It’s probably just a one-day thing with Martin Prado resting, but the Braves tonight are giving Jason Heyward his first start as a No. 2 hitter since last July 25.
Heyward has been the team’s hottest hitter thus far, batting .375/.444/.656 with two homers and three steals in 10 games. Besides Chipper Jones, who has been great in his four games since coming off the DL, everyone else in the lineup has hit below their norms, though in Brian McCann’s case, only slightly.
The Braves like Prado as a No. 2 hitter, so Heyward’s stay at the top of the order figures to be brief. He keeps pounding the ball like this for a few more weeks, then it’s possible the Braves could turn over the third spot in the order to him and drop McCann to fourth or fifth. In his nine previous starts, Heyward had batted sixth four times and seventh the other five games.