I guess this no longer qualifies as Yankee news, but AJ Burnett’s career for the Pittsburgh Pirates has gotten off to a rocky start. In what could only be described as an unfortunate fluke, Burnett fouled a ball into his face while practicing his bunting at Spring Training. The video is here, and somewhat painful to watch. AJ sustained an orbital (the bone around the eye) fracture, and is going to have surgery, possibly keeping him out for the start of the regular season.
I’m guessing (based on what I’ve heard) that he didn’t have any direct damage to his eye, so there should not be concerns about vision loss. Nonetheless, this is an unfortunate setback to a guy who I’m sure desperately wanted to make a great impression with his new team and fanbase. I’ve never been a huge AJ Burnett fan, but I always rooted for him to succeed while in New York, and will continue to hope that he pitches well in Pittsburgh. I’ll be wishing him a quick recovery, and hope he can get back out there soon.
I can’t see a fluke occurrence like this happening without wondering about the wisdom of pitchers continuing to bat in the National League. Sure this could happen to anybody who tries to bunt, but it was possibly the result of poor technique from a player who has swung a bat very infrequently over the last few years. Having pitchers bat and run the bases when their main job is pitching definitely risks putting them in harm’s way, and I wonder how many fluke injuries it will take for the MLB to reconsider this policy (since it means the end of “strategy”, double-switches, and the awesomeness of intentional walks to 8th place hitters).
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