It was all good just a week ago. The smell of fresh, cut grass was in the air. You could hear the crack of the bat and spring training was officially underway. The Pirates and Yankees finalized their trade of A.J. Burnett and once again Pirates fans had a reason to be excited for the start of the season. As any Pirate fan will tell you however, something had to go wrong.
It was just a bunting drill, what could go wrong? The worst case scenario would be a broken finger right? Well the newly acquired Burnett took his turn in the drill, and ended up with much worse. During the drill on Wednesday, Feb. 29 Burnett fouled the bunt off and hit himself in the eye. It caused bleeding and the severity of the injury wasn’t thought to be that bad. Even Burnett joked and said he will finish the drill later on. The only thing is, he didn’t.
Burnett was flown back to Pittsburgh for further evaluation, and it was revealed that Burnett fractured his right eye orbital bone. Burnett is scheduled for surgery Friday morning and no timetable has been announced for his return. Add Burnett’s injury to the likelihood of Charlie Morton not being ready for opening day while he is still recovering from hip surgery, and the crowded Pirates rotation seems to have opened up too much.
If neither Burnett or Morton are ready, the opening day rotation should include Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens and Brad Lincoln. Non-roster invitee JoJo Reyes has an outside shot at making the team.
Should the Pirate staff be blamed for Burnett’s injury, or is it just one of those fluke misfortunes that seems to always happen to the Pirates? In their defense, every team has a bunting drill and a bunting tournament between the pitchers (which Lincoln won), so I can’t put the blame on the team or management. With Burnett coming back to the National League, it’s important to allow him to get his reps at the plate and get comfortable to swinging and bunting again.
With it looking highly unlikely that Burnett will take the hill against former teammate Roy Halladay on opening day, the question is, who do you give the nod to?
Check back with Ohio Valley Athletics for the latest updates on Burnett and the Pirates.
Photo Credit: NBCSports