MLB Notes: Eye surgery for A.J.

A.J. Burnett was injured Wednesday during a bunting drill when he fouled a pitch into the eye....

A.J. Burnett was injured Wednesday during a bunting drill when he fouled a pitch into the eye. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:18 PM ET

Pitcher A.J. Burnett will have surgery Friday for an orbital fracture of his right eye.

The Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander was injured Wednesday during a bunting drill when he fouled a pitch into the eye.

There is no timetable for his return, but is expected the 35-year-old will be sidelined for at least three weeks, hinging on the severity of the fracture.

Burnett was hoping for a fresh start this season after struggling with the New York Yankees. He was acquired by the Pirates last month for two minor-leaguers.

SIZEMORE SIDELINED AGAIN

Hard-luck outfielder Grady Sizemore on Thursday underwent his sixth surgical procedure in four years, this time on his lower back.

The Cleveland Indians said Sizemore's recovery will take two to three months.

Sizemore, 29, tweaked his back last month while fielding ground balls.

Once considered a rising star with the Indians, Sizemore also has had surgery on both knees, two operations for sports hernias, and a procedure on his left elbow -- all since 2008.

LACKEY FINALLY PAIN-FREE

After struggling with pain for two seasons, Boston Red Sox right-hander John Lackey is prepared to sit out 2012 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

"At least when this is over I'm looking forward to pitching healthy again," the 33-year-old right-hander told the Boston Globe. "For sure I'm going to miss competing and being out there, but this had to be done.

"Dr. (Thomas) Gill told me I had one of the biggest bone spurs he'd ever seen and of course the damage that led to the Tommy John surgery."

Lackey, who was 12-12 with a 6.41 earned-run average in 2011, slowly is rehabbing by throwing at a 45-foot distance every other day.

NAPOLI SEEKS FREEDOM

Catcher Mike Napoli, 30, will test free agency after the season after failing to get a muli-year contract done with the Texas Rangers during the winter.

Napoli, who settled instead for a one-year, $9.4-million deal with Texas, said talks for a long-term deal have been "squashed."

"I'd love to be here, but I'll test the market," Napoli told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Napoli hit .320 in 2011 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI.

TIME'S UP FOR VARITEK

Jason Varitek battled his emotions Thursday as he announced his retirement from the Boston Red Sox.

"After months of deliberating what to do, I decided that it's best to me and my family to retire a Red Sox," said Varitek, who had to pause several times during his speech. "This has probably been the most difficult decision of my career."

The 39-year-old spent 15 years as a catcher with the Red Sox -- the last seven as team captain -- and was a three-time all-star.

BRIEFLY

MLB is probing the Texas Rangers' signing of Jairo Beras to a $4.5-million deal over questions about the Dominican prospect's age. Beras, a 6-foot-5, 175-pound outfielder, must be at least 17 to sign. Other teams believe he is only 16 ... Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season, said he is willing to take a hometown discount in order to stay in Philadelphia. But he is looking for a five-year deal and said he won't take a low-ball offer ... The St. Louis Cardinals made it official Thursday, signing catcher Yadier Molina to a five-year extension worth $15 annually, beginning in 2013 ... Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum will cut back on his throwing program after reporting tenderness in his right shoulder. Marcum, 30, had the same issue last spring ... Yankees boss Hal Steinbrenner said he wants to lower New York's payroll to $189 million -- the labour tax threshold after the 2013 season. In 2011, the Yankees had a payroll of $212.7 million and were required to pay a $13.9-million luxury tax.


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