A.J. Burnett is on the disabled list with an elbow injury and has said repeatedly that he plans to retire after the season, so the Pirates right-hander is working hard to make it back in September.
Burnett threw a two-inning, 35-pitch simulated game Tuesday and told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that his elbow “is the best it’s felt in a long, long time.”
Brink reports that he’ll throw another simulated game Sunday, at which point the Pirates should have a better idea about Burnett’s potential return timetable following a platelet-rich plasma injection to aid the healing process.
Burnett made the All-Star team by going 7-3 with a 2.11 ERA in the first half, but the 38-year-old struggled in three second-half starts before being shut down.
Braves 21-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. nabbed his 30th stolen base of the season on Friday, becoming the second-youngest player in Major League history to produce at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Per MLB Stats, the only other player under 22 years old to pull off the feat is Mike Trout, who did so with 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases during his age-20 season in 2012.
Acuña’s triumphant moment came in the eighth inning of Friday’s game against the Mets. He drew a six-pitch walk against righty reliever Seth Lugo, then waited for an opportune moment as Ozzie Albies stepped to the plate. Lugo fired a 93-m.p.h. fastball to Albies for ball no. 2, which was promptly returned to second base by catcher Wilson Ramos. The throw came in high, however; Amed Rosario had to jump to make the catch, allowing Acuña to slide safely into the bag and hit his career mark.
It’s been an eventful season for the All-Star outfielder, whose 36 home runs and 30 stolen bases helps pad a .294/.377/.536 batting line and 5.1 fWAR over 597 plate appearances. Through the first 11 innings of Friday’s contest, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base.