Pirates starting pitcher Burnett facing orbital surgery after bunt drill
TribLIVE Sports Videos
BRADENTON, Fla. — After pitcher A.J. Burnett has surgery Friday to repair a broken orbital bone, the Pirates should have a better idea of when — or if — their standout right-hander might return to spring training camp.
Burnett was struck near his right eye by a batted ball Wednesday during a bunt drill. Assisted by an athletic trainer, Burnett seemed to be dazed as he left the field with a towel pressed against his face. He then flew to Pittsburgh, where team doctors determined surgery was necessary.
The Pirates did not provide specific information about Burnett's injury or treatment. General manager Neal Huntington on Thursday left Pirate City without speaking to reporters and was unavailable for comment later, as he attended a charity golf tournament.
Burnett had been expected to be the Opening Day starter, but it's possible he will begin the season on the disabled list.
"Without knowing all the details, I'd say he'll probably be out two to four weeks," said Dr. Robert Schwarcz, director of oculoplastic surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "A lot depends on what (bones) were broken and whether there was any muscle impingement."
Even if Burnett makes a rapid recovery, he will be behind the other pitchers in the starting rotation. It's unlikely he would be ready to pitch a regular-season game after only one or two weeks of spring training workouts.
A fractured orbital is the second-most common form of facial bone injury after a broken nose, Schwarcz said. Damage can to be sustained to the floor, sides and/or roof of the orbital bones.
Such an injury sometimes results in double vision. But, Schwarcz said, vision problems usually are only temporary.
Burnett remained conscious after being hit and even cracked jokes as he left the field — which would seem to imply the injury is not devastating.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison fractured his orbital bone in the Oct. 2 game against the Houston Texans. Harrison played against the Texans after sustaining the injury, then later had surgery. He missed four games and returned to the starting lineup Nov. 6 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Schwarcz said Burnett is fortunate to be a baseball player.
"If he was a weightlifter or some other athlete that puts a lot of pressure on his face, he'd be done for the year," Schwarcz said.
The Pirates acquired Burnett, 35, on the first day of spring training in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees. The Pirates are responsible for $13 million of the $33 million Burnett will make over the next two seasons.
Burnett made 10 trips to the disabled list over his first nine years in the majors but has been practically injury-free the past three seasons.
Bedard gets the start
With Burnett out indefinitely, Erik Bedard will start Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, and reliever Daniel Moskos will take Burnett's spot in the group of active pitchers that day.
Moskos was scratched from pitching in the intrasquad game Friday.
Burnett had been slated to pitch the first two innings Sunday
Odds and ends
Casey McGehee will be the Gold team's designated hitter in the intrasquad game, with Pedro Alvarez at third base and Garrett Jones at first. For the Black team, Matt Hague will play first base, with Nick Evans at third and Jeff Clement at DH. ... The Pirates' game against the Boston Red Sox at 7 p.m. March 9 will be televised by MLB Network. ... Brad Lincoln beat Michael Crotta in the final round of the pitchers' bunting tournament on Thursday. A disc jockey played "Eye of the Tiger" before the semifinals began — maybe not the best choice, considering Burnett's injury — and Lincoln received a title belt for his victory.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Ailing Mercer sore but on mend
- Pirates notebook: GM sticking to plan with Kang
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Cubs, April 21, 2015
- Cole overcomes rough start as Pirates sweep Brewers
- Pirates notebook: Is it time for Kang to head to Indy?
- Cubs third baseman Bryant is looking to buck MLB rookie trend
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Cubs, April 20, 2015
- Pirates minor league report: Rapid advancement to test Tucker
- Marte’s bat, Worley’s arm show improvement in Pirates win
- Pirates notebook: Morton heads to DL; Lambo, Caminero make Opening Day roster
- Three homers, Cole’s strong outing lead Pirates in home opener