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.

Mariners lose on walk-off wild pitch

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2019 has not been kind to the Seattle Mariners. After starting the year 13-2, the club has gone 41-71 since, earning last place in the AL West. To give credit where credit is due, however, the Mariners were on something of a roll, entering Wednesday afternoon’s series road trip finale against the Rays on a four-game winning streak. However, the M’s lost Wednesday’s contest in very depressing fashion.

Entering the top of the ninth inning, the Mariners trailed the Rays 5-3, but a solo homer by Daniel Vogelbach and a two-run triple by Mallex Smith sent them into the bottom half of the ninth leading 6-5. Manager Scott Servais sent Matt Magill — acquired from the Twins exactly one month ago — to the mound to close out the game.

Kevin Kiermaier greeted Magill rudely, starting the inning by swatting a game-tying solo home run to center field. Magill would then allow a single to Willy Adames and a double to Michael Brosseau before intentionally walking Ji-Man Choi to load the bases with no outs. Tommy Pham worked the count to 1-2 when Magill spiked a breaking ball in the dirt that catcher Omar Narváez had little hope of corralling. The ball skipped away and the Rays walked off 7-6 winners on a wild pitch, a very on-brand sentence for the 2019 Mariners.