A.J. Burnett threw in an intrasquad game at Pirate City this afternoon, going three innings against the Pirates’ Triple-A lineup. The start was Burnett’s first outing in a game situation since going down with a fractured orbital bone earlier in Spring Training.
The right-hander went three innings and threw 54 pitches. He gave up just one hit on the day, a line drive single to Starling Marte.
“Delivery looks sound. He got a little quick in the first inning, but after that he was fine,” Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage said.
The first inning was the roughest of the three for Burnett. He struck out Chase d’Arnaud, then got Jordy Mercer to fly out to right field. Starling Marte came through with the two out single, and was caught stealing at second for the final out of the inning. The call was questionable, with Burnett standing on the mound in disbelief that the inning was over.
The right-hander threw 18 pitches in the inning, sitting 91-94 MPH with his fastball.
The next inning was much easier for Burnett, as he got Jake Fox and Jeff Clement to ground out, followed by a strikeout against Nick Evans. The right-hander needed 13 pitches to get through the second inning.
Burnett’s third inning was a typical minor league camp situation. He got three quick outs, including a one pitch comebacker to the mound, and a 3-1 ground out which allowed him to field first base.
“I needed this, it was good,” Burnett said about fielding the position and his overall performance. “It was good to field your position, cover first. We’ve got to do that, so that’s why I wanted to get in a game as soon as I can.”
He remained on the field after the third out, and got three more outs before the inning was called. He was 91-93 MPH in the third, and needed just 23 pitches to get six outs in the inning.
Overall Burnett got enough outs for four innings of work. He gave up just one hit, and struck out three. Of his nine other outs today, five came on ground balls.
“For the most part I got my work in,” Burnett said of his outing. “Could have been a little sharper, will be a little sharper, but gotta get that pitch count up and that’s what today is for.”
Burnett will throw a side session on Tuesday, and will make his next start on Friday.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Excellent news. Hopefully he will back ahead of schedule.