Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Burnett's Recovery Continues Pitcher Feels Strong after Bullpen Session, Will Throw Batting Practice Saturday Spring Training: 14 Days until Opening Day

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Burnett's Recovery Continues Pitcher Feels Strong after Bullpen Session, Will Throw Batting Practice Saturday Spring Training: 14 Days until Opening Day

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. --

Starter A.J. Burnett pitched a bullpen session Wednesday at McKechnie Field, the latest step in his recovery from surgery.

Burnett, who had surgery March 2 to repair a broken orbital bone beneath his right eye, threw 52 pitches to bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade with pitching coach Ray Searage watching. He threw fastballs and breaking pitches, and his fastball command appeared sharp.

He said he opted for another bullpen session rather than live batting practice to help his body regain its strength and that his arm and legs felt better.

"Strength feels good, just timing, mechanics, things like that," said Burnett, who now sports only a faint scar beneath his right eye. "Today was definitely a big step, a lot better than the previous two."

He is scheduled to throw live batting practice Saturday.

"I'm still behind these guys a little bit," Burnett said. "The more I can get up there, the better off I'm going to be."

The Pirates issued a tentative two- to three-month timetable for Burnett's return, placing the date between early May and early June. He returned quickly after the surgery to baseball activity.

"My workouts haven't gotten to where I want them to yet," he said. "They will, once games start and I'm on a five-day routine. Each day is gradually putting more in there, going a little harder."

PIRATES REASSIGN FOUR

The Pirates reassigned first baseman Jeff Clement, outfielder Brandon Boggs, and right-handers Tim Wood and Daniel Cabrera to minor league camp Wednesday morning.

There are 39 active players left in camp: 20 pitchers, 5 catchers, 10 infielders and 4 outfielders.

Clement, 28, was attempting to prove he had fully recovered from microfracture knee surgery he had in September 2010. He did not have a hit in nine at-bats during spring training. He said the Pirates wanted him to get more at-bats, and that he felt good so far in spring.

"Play more and see what happens," he said. "I have confidence that if I just take care of what I'm capable of, it's going to work out the way it's supposed to."

He hit .271 in 59 at-bats for Class AAA Indianapolis near the end of the 2011 season. …

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