A.J. Burnett is set to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation.
Manager Clint Hurdle says the veteran right-hander will start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs after being sidelined the past month because of a strained right calf.
Burnett apparently looked good enough in his bullpen sessions and simulated game that the Pirates decided a minor-league rehab start was not necessary. Hurdle said Friday he didn’t think his pitcher would be “as stimulated” as he would pitching at Wrigley Field.
“He was able to stay involved in games, throwing throughout this process with the exception of the first couple of days,” Hurdle said. “First bullpen was what we expected. Simulated game, I thought we saw some good stuff. Next bullpen the timing and rhythm were really pretty sharp.”
Burnett is 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 14 starts, but even without him, the Pirates continue to roll along.
The Pirates beat the Cubs 6-2 Friday and have a major league-leading 52-32 record and a two-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.
Injured Rays pitcher progresses
Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb threw off a mound for the first time since being hit in the head by a line drive last month.
Cobb had the bullpen session before Friday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. There is no timetable for when Cobb will pitch in a game.
“The bullpen went great,” Cobb said. “It felt like I had before I got injured. Surprising because it usually feels a little awkward out there when you haven’t been on the mound for a while. Getting on the mound is, obviously, a step in the right direction. I don’t think we’re extremely close, but we’re a lot faster along than we expected.”
Cobb said his vertigo symptoms have improved over the past week.
Cobb was struck in the right ear by a ball hit by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on June 15 and was hospitalized overnight after being carted off the field.
Gordon readies to play
Royals outfielder Alex Gordon passed a battery of concussion tests and was cleared by the team’s medical staff to take batting practice before Friday night’s game against Oakland.
The team was still awaiting word from Major League Baseball’s independent physician on whether Gordon would be cleared to play, but it is possible he could be back this weekend.
Around the leagues
New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will start a rehabilitation assignment today with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is scheduled to play at least five innings at shortstop. … The Arizona Diamondbacks have optioned right-handed reliever Chaz Roe and outfielder Tony Campana to Triple-A Reno in a series of moves to clear the way for left-hander Tyler Skaggs to start Friday’s game against Colorado. The team also bolstered its worn-out bullpen by recalling right-handed reliever Charles Brewer from Reno. … The New York Mets recalled first baseman Ike Davis and pitcher Greg Burke from Triple-A Las Vegas and designated pitcher Brandon Lyon for assignment.