A.J. Burnett scheduled to throw simulated game Saturday

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Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett continues to make steady progress in his recovery from surgery to correct an orbital bone fracture below his right eye.

According to Tom Singer of MLB.com, Burnett tossed a successful 52-pitch bullpen session Wednesday in Pirates camp and has been cleared to throw a couple of innings Saturday in a simulated game. If all continues to go well, he should begin making minor-league rehab starts in early-to-mid April.

The Bucs acquired Burnett from the Yankees back in February for a couple of minor leaguers and cash considerations. He’s expected to be ready for live major league action by the first week or two of May.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.