Pirates Notebook: Burnett Throws Third Bullpen

BRADENTON, Fla. –Right-hander A.J. Burnett continues to make progress back from eye surgery to repair the fractured orbital bone in his right eye while fouling on a bunt attempt at Pirate City.

Burnett threw a 52-pitch bullpen session at McKechnie Field on Wednesday morning with pitching coach Ray Searage looking on. It was the third bullpen Burnett has thrown since he returned to Bradenton.

“A lot better today,” Burnett said of how he felt afterwards. “That was another reason why I got an extra bullpen in. I could have went to live BP, but I felt like I wasn’t ready. The eye’s fine. Strength feels good. Just timing and mechanics, things like that. Today was definitely a big step. It was a lot better than the previous two.”

“It’s all step by step. I’ve got a sim game coming up now, and after that, it’s time to go. Two days off, throw. We’ll see how it goes…Just more pitches. I like to feel. Getting back on the mound. I use the phrase, ‘one legged table.’ because that’s what I felt like. That’s why I had another bullpen. Get that timing. I’m still behind these guys quite a bit, so the more I can get up there, the better off I’ll be.”

Burnett is in his second portion of his return to pitch program. The first phase was recovering from the surgery itself.

“My workouts haven’t gotten to where I want them to yet,” Burnett said. “They will once games start and I get on a five-day routine. Each day is gradually putting more in there, and going more and longer. We got a live BP coming up, and I’m going to roll with it.”

The right-hander is tentatively scheduled to throw a live batting practice on Saturday.

Hanrahan Effective This Spring

Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan continues to have a solid spring so far. Over five appearances, Hanrahan has allowed one run on two hits over five frames with 10 strikeouts. His 10 whiff’s lead the team.

The reason for his success has been incorporating his slider more during his outings. Last season, the All-Star relied on his fastball as his weapon of choice. The year prior, Hanrahan favored his slider. During the spring, Hanrahan has been working on using both pitches, and it’s paying off.

“He’s been working on his slider,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “Throwing that a little bit more. He got away from it last year because it really wasn’t a necessary pitch. He was able to pound the fastball and get outs, be very effective. He’s working on that, repeating delivery without being able to throw it also behind in counts as well as a put away pitch. He’s making good progress.”

Cruzin’ in the ‘pen

Righty reliever Juan Cruz has been impressive this spring out of the bullpen. The 33-year-old, who signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh this past January, has given up just one run over his five games (6.0 innings). Cruz is battling for a spot in the Pirates bullpen.

“I think he’s only got marked on one outing,” Hurdle said. “He’s thrown all three of his pitches with good command. The fastball velocity has been consistent. He’s been able to throw his slider and his change-up ahead in counts, and to get back in counts. He’s been effective so far.”

Bullpen Heating Up

The bullpen competition continues to heat up this spring. Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli and Chris Resop seem to be the only locks. Non-roster invites such as Cruz, and young arms in Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Daniel Moskos, Chris Leroux, make up an impressive competition.

Hurdle said the bullpen this year will be a strength once again.

“We’d  like to see less volume for them,” Hurdle said. “We were able to manage their usage the first four months. The last two month, they got dog piled a little bit. They had to pick up more innings then we really wanted them to pick up. They’ve all got another year of experience. They’ve got another year of reading swings in their division and in their league. It’s going to help their experience. I think another year of confidence. They know their roles out there.”

Share This Article

Prospect Notebook: Alvarez and Jones Homer at Pirate City

Next Story »

Pirates Lose 8-6, to Rays in See-Saw Game

  • http://twitter.com/Andy16365 Andy Close

    Daniel McCutchen is probably a lock as well.

Latest Analysis

  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Jose Tabata Changed His Swing After Talking With Marlon Byrd

    11 hours ago

    Yesterday, Jose Tabata put one on the roof of the batting cages over the left-field fence at Pirate City. Today, he added two more. By that pattern, ...

    Read More
  • Antonio Bastardo

    How Ray Searage is Trying to Fix Antonio Bastardo’s Control Issues

    14 hours ago

    Tony Watson has established himself as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Out of 142 qualified relievers last year, he ranked 21st in WAR, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Q&A: Will PNC Park Burn Down When Neil Walker Eventually Leaves?

    16 hours ago

    Last week we started a Q&A article that will run every Friday. Right after the first article went up, we got a lot more questions. Normally I’ll ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow

    The Change That Will Help Tyler Glasnow Reach His Upside

    2 days ago

    The 2011 draft made headlines for the Pittsburgh Pirates for two main reasons. They selected Gerrit Cole first overall, and gave him a record-setting bonus of $8 ...

    Read More
  • Jameson Taillon

    The Next Steps in Jameson Taillon’s Tommy John Rehab Process

    3 days ago

    Jameson Taillon threw a bullpen session yesterday, which I outlined in the daily recap. Taillon is still in “rehab mode” as Clint Hurdle put it, which means ...

    Read More
  • Sean Rodriguez

    The Keys to Sean Rodriguez Being a Productive Hitter

    3 days ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates added Sean Rodriguez at a high cost this off-season. They traded promising pitching prospect Buddy Borden to the Rays, getting Rodriguez in return after ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More

    Advertisement