09/09/2004 4:55 PM ET
Notes: Lefty set for Friday's test
Burnett will throw first bullpen session since trip to DL
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates southpaw Sean Burnett should have a pretty good indication on Friday as to whether or not he will be shut down for the remainder of his rookie season.
|Sean Burnett is 0-3 with a 10.29 ERA in his last five starts. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Burnett, who has been sidelined by left elbow inflammation since Aug. 24, is expected to throw off a mound on Friday for first time since going on the disabled list. Unless he comes through the bullpen session without any complications, it's unlikely he'll pitch again this season.
"[Friday] is the big test," said Burnett. "[The elbow] feels great. The ball is coming out great. But I'm still a little nervous to get on the mound and see how it goes."
Burnett began his rookie season in impressive fashion. The left-hander won five straight starts from June 29 through July 25, including his first Major League shutout against the Expos on July 9. After eight starts, the 21-year-old was 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA.
However, Burnett was not nearly as efficient in his next five outings, going 0-3 with a 10.29 before being placed on the DL.
"I never questioned my stuff," said Burnett. "I definitely went out there knowing I could get guys out at this level. I think I proved that.
"In my last few starts, I tried to pitch through some things knowing I wasn't great. I caused more trouble and might have caused the injury."
Unlike some who have questioned the logic of having a top prospect return to the mound and risk further injury so late in the season, Burnett believes it is worth the risk to end his first season knowing that his arm is sound.
"I'm definitely going to take it easy. But I'd like to at least get one start to make sure I'm healthy and get back into the game," said Burnett. "It would be a lot easier going into the offseason knowing you're healthy and looking forward to next season than not sure what is going on with your arm.
"Friday is going to be a big step. Hopefully it goes well."
Davis' season likely over: J.J. Davis' injury-plagued rookie season, and perhaps his career with the Pirates, has likely come to an end.
Davis, who strained his right hip flexor on July 11 against the Expos, has since been limited to only a handful of minor league games. Despite treatment, his condition has not improved.
"It's not loosening up," said Davis. "It's staying tight."
Davis said on Thursday that he expects to sit out the rest of the season while preparing to play winter ball in Mexico or Puerto Rico.
"That's what I plan on doing so I can get my at-bats in winter ball," said Davis. "I really don't see the use in coming back this year."
Davis, the No. 6 overall selection in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, showed signs that he was beginning to harness some of his power potential by hitting 20 home runs with Double-A Altoona in 2002 and 26 home runs with Triple-A Nashville in 2003. But, after making Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster out of Spring Training this season mostly due to the fact that he was out of minor league options, Davis batted just .143 (5-for-35) in 25 games while suffering through two stints on the DL.
"It was a real tough season for me," said Davis. "I just wish that I would have got a little opportunity to play. But hey, it's part of the game. I'm not worried about it. It's a business."
After Davis' disappointing rookie season, it is unlikely the Pirates will carry him on the 25-man roster again in 2005. If he is not dealt this winter, the club may outright him to Triple-A Nashville at the risk that another team could claim him off waivers.
Rain on Brooks' parade: It's a pretty safe bet that no one was more disappointed by Wednesday's rainout than rookie Frank Brooks.
The southpaw was scheduled to make his first Major League start in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Astros. But because of the washout, Oliver Perez had his start pushed back from Wednesday to Thursday, and Brooks was sent back to the bullpen.
Brooks, who has posted a 0.93 ERA in six relief appearances, tried to look at the bright side.
"Rainouts aren't too bad," said Brooks. "It's a nice day off. You get to hang out with the wife and kid and go out to eat at a reasonable time.
"My time will come. When it happens, it happens. No big deal. I'll go right back to the bullpen today and continue doing what I was doing."
Bucs bits: Triple-A Nashville manager Trent Jewett and hitting coach Jeff Livesey have joined the Pirates' staff for the remainder of the season. "I think it is important to have our coordinators in, and particularly our Triple-A staff in," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "When you talk about evaluation and [players] who can help you at this level, it's easy to forget how fast this game is at this level. It doesn't hurt to get a taste of that." ... The Pirates' doubleheader Thursday was their seventh, the most the club has played since participating in eight double dips in 1984. "I've been here 14 years and I've never seen the type of rain and rainouts we've had this year," said McClendon. ... Because his team has a scheduled off day during each of the final three weeks of the season, McClendon scrapped the idea of going with a six-man rotation to end the season.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.