Things are not beginning well for the A.J. Burnett era in Pittsburgh. The team acquired the right-handed pitcher from the New York Yankees about two weeks ago along with about $20 million in cash in exchange for two low-tier prospects.
On Wednesday, Burnett fouled a pitch off his face while participating in the team’s bunting competition. The team flew Burnett from its Florida Spring Training site back to Pittsburgh to have the injury evaluated.
Today, ESPN reports Burnett has a broken orbital bone and will miss between two and three months while recovering from surgery.
“The initial step will be to heal from the surgery,” general manager Neal Huntington said, according to the ESPN article. “Secondly, we will recondition his arm and body to where he was prior to the injury. Lastly, we will put A.J. through the same progression as he would have gone through here in spring training.”
“The very rough timetable to complete this process and have A.J. prepared to compete without restrictions at the major league level is eight to 12 weeks,” he said.
This means Burnett will miss Opening Day and at least a month of the regular season, a real setback for a team who needs to give everything they’ve got for the entire season just to compete in the lowly NL Central. Losing arguably the team’s best starter for this amount of time hurts.