Bunt bangs up Pirates starting pitcher Burnett

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, March 1, 2012

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett flew to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to be examined by team doctors after being struck in the face by a batted ball.

Burnett, who was wearing a helmet, was injured Wednesday during a bunt drill. The Pirates have not released specific information about Burnett's injury, and he left the team's spring training complex without speaking to reporters.

Burnett bunted the ball straight up, and it caught him near the right eye. He dropped into a crouch, apparently dazed, and was immediately examined by an athletic trainer. Burnett soon recovered and even cracked a joke — "Where did the bone go?" — before being led off the field with a towel over his face.

Burnett had been scheduled to pitch two innings Sunday in a Grapefruit League game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates acquired him at the start of spring training in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees, and he was expected to be the Pirates' starter on Opening Day.

Morton makes progress

Right-hander Charlie Morton threw live batting practice Wednesday for the first time in spring training, and it went off without a hitch.

"Watching him pitch, I totally forgot that he had hip surgery (in October)," pitching coordinator Jim Benedict said. "He's on a normal progression, and we haven't seen anything alarming."

Morton threw 35 pitches, including fastballs and breaking balls, in two simulated innings against lefty hitter Brandon Boggs and righties Jordy Mercer, Nick Evans and Josh Harrison.

"You get a little more amped up when there are hitters," Morton said. "But it's not a huge deal. It's just part of the process."

Morton's workout drew a big crowd. Manager Clint Hurdle, pitching coach Ray Searage and several Pirates scouts and front office execs stopped by Field 4 to watch.

Morton is scheduled to throw batting practice again Saturday and is tentatively slated to pitch one inning Wednesday in a "B" game.

Pitching assignments

Right-hander James McDonald is slated to pitch two innings Saturday in the Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Erik Bedard will pitch two innings Sunday against the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field.

The Pirates will play a nine-inning intrasquad game Friday at McKechnie Field. Jeff Karstens, Jeff Locke, Rudy Owens, Jared Hughes, Bryan Morris and Michael Crotta will pitch for the Black team. Kevin Correia, Jo-Jo Reyes, Kyle McPherson, Gerrit Cole, Daniel Moskos, Duke Welker and Tim Wood will pitch for the Gold team.

Righty Daniel Cabrera was scheduled to pitch in the intrasquad game but was scratched because of tenderness in his right forearm.

Paging Dr. Gooby

Trevor Gooby, the Pirates' director of Florida operations, delivered a baby Tuesday night during an event for fans at McKechnie Field.

Seeing a woman slumped to the ground in obvious pain, Gooby ran over to see if he could help. With an ambulance on the way, Gooby asked stadium workers to gather towels and sterile gloves just in case.

"I was trying to do some breathing stuff with her that I did with my wife when she was giving birth," Gooby said. "It was just her and me. She kept saying, 'This baby's coming.' She gave one push, the baby came out, and I caught it and wrapped it up."

The baby, a boy whom the mother named McKechnie, was born five weeks early. Both mother and newborn were doing fine at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

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2012 Pirates Spring Training

2012 Pirates Spring Training

Photos from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

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