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.
Indians third baseman José Ramírez had to be carted off the field in the top of the third inning of Sunday afternoon’s Cactus League game agaisnt the White Sox. Ramírez fouled a pitch off of his leg during an at-bat against pitcher Sean Nolin.
MLB.com’s Mandy Bell reports that Ramírez was diagnosed with a left knee contusion after he was taken for X-rays. The X-rays were negative, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Ramírez, 26, finished third in AL MVP Award voting last season, batting .270/.387/.552 with 39 home runs, 105 RBI, 110 runs scored, and 34 stolen bases across 698 plate appearances. He was worth 7.9 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. If Ramírez lands on the injured list, that would obviously be a huge loss for the Indians, despite being the overwhelming favorites in the AL Central entering the season.
The Indians will already start the season without second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor, though both are expected to return before the end of April. The infield is in rough shape at the moment.