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A.J. Burnett makes first minor league rehab start

Apr 7, 2012, 11:01 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett

After suffering a fractured orbital bone in his right eye during a bunting drill on February 29, the expectation was that A.J. Burnett would need around eight to 12 weeks of recovery time. It sounds like he’ll meet the lower end of that timetable.

Burnett made his first minor league rehab start with High-A Bradenton last night and allowed one run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings. He threw approximately 70 pitches while striking out five and walking just one.

Burnett told Tom Singer of MLB.com that he felt good and should be ready to make the next step in his rehab process in five days.

“We’ll see how I feel five days from now, and go from there,” he said. “But everything feels good right now. Every time out, I’m getting better and better. I’d let them know if I can’t go, or if I need more time.”

There’s no formal timetable, but assuming no setbacks, Burnett should be stretched out in time to make his Pirates’ debut before the end of the month.

Burnett, 35, was acquired from Yankees in February for a couple of minor leaguers and cash considerations. He posted a 5.15 ERA and 173/83 K/BB ratio in 190 1/3 innings last year.

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