Burnett will return from DL to start finale vs. Cubs
Veteran right-hander has been sidelined with calf-muscle tear since mid-June
CHICAGO -- A.J. Burnett will get back on his horse, in ballplayer-speak, right where he dismounted.
The Pirates' ace right-hander will come off the disabled list to start Sunday's series finale here against the Cubs. It will be his first appearance since he went 8 1/3 innings at Wrigley Field for a 6-2 victory on June 8.
Five days after that victory, which gave Burnett a lifetime record of 5-0 at Wrigley Field, he had to go on the DL with a Grade 1 calf-muscle tear suffered during routine running drills in PNC Park.
Burnett resumed throwing days later and, considering there was no injury to his arm, little thought was given to having him detour for a Minor League rehab assignment prior to rejoining the rotation.
"His last bullpen, his timing and rhythm were really sharp," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We didn't see a need to have him throw 75 pitches in a rehab game. His experience, the adrenaline of a packed house, his success here -- all of it will combine to get him out there in a very competitive state."
"Everything feels good. I've been doing a lot of PFP (pitchers fielding practice)," said Burnett, addressing the concern of being able to leave the mound for fielding plays.
The last time he threw a pitch for the Pirates, they were in second place in the National League Central, trailing the Cardinals by three games. The Bucs took a two-game division lead over St. Louis into Friday's action.
"It's been fun to watch. I've been involved every step of the way, and I can't wait to contribute," said Burnett. "[Returning] any place would be good -- but I do enjoy pitching here [at Wrigley Field]."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.