BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett was struck in the face by a batted ball on Wednesday, and will fly from the team's spring training complex to Pittsburgh to have his right eye examined by team doctors.
Burnett was injured as he hit during a bunting drill. After the ball hit the temple near his right eye, a dazed Burnett dropped into a crouch near home plate. Players who had gathered to watch the drill gasped loudly then went quiet as Burnett sagged to his knee. As he was examined by an athletic trainer, Burnett joked, "Where did the bone go?"
Holding a towel against his face, Burnett was helped off the field. He left the complex without speaking to reporters. The Pirates have released no information regarding the exact nature of Burnett's injury.
The Pirates acquired Burnett, 35, on the eve of spring training in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees. Before the injury, Burnett was expected to be the Pirates' starter on Opening Day.
After signing an $82.5 million, five-year contract, Burnett helped the Yankees to their 27th World Series title in 2009. Then he slumped to a 21-26 record with a 5.20 ERA over the following two seasons. He led the major leagues with 25 wild pitches last year and allowed a career-high 31 homers.
Pittsburgh is paying just $13 million of Burnett's salary: $5 million this year and $8 million in 2013. The Yankees are paying the rest.
He is a 13-year veteran.