A.J. Burnett: “I expect to be throwing soon for the Pirates, because I feel great.”

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Pirates starter A.J. Burnett threw a simulated game on Friday, and will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, MLB.com’s Tom Singer reports. The right-hander said, “I expect to be throwing soon for the Pirates, because I feel great.”

Burnett hasn’t pitched since late July due to inflammation in his right elbow. There was some concern that the 38-year-old veteran might have thrown his last pitch in the majors, as he plans to retire after the season. However, it sounds as if a mid-September return is in the cards, which would give him three or four starts.

Burnett currently holds a 3.06 ERA with a 114/36 K/BB ratio over 135 1/3 innings.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.