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Starter A.J. Burnett returns to Pirates' camp

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander A.J. Burnett once accidentally burned his hand with an iron, then the next day threw a no-hitter. He has screws in his hand and knees from other injuries throughout his career.

So Burnett was not stunned when doctors said he needed surgery to repair a broken orbital bone after he fouled a bunt attempt off his right eye early in Pirates spring training camp.

"If it's freaky, it's going to happen to me," Burnett said with a wry grin. "Back in my early days, I had some freaky injuries. You learn to handle it."

Burnett returned to Pirates spring training camp Saturday, eight days after having surgery in Pittsburgh. He's been cleared to resume workouts as part of a gradual return-to-pitch program. Today, Burnett rode an exercise bike and played catch for about 50 throws.

"(The Pirates are) taking the conservative approach, which is the correct approach," Burnett said. "There is no timetable. Eight to 12 (weeks) is realistic, but you never know if something could act up from running or lifting, swelling pops up out of nowhere."

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