Bucs 'hoping for the best' on Burdi's 2nd opinion

April 23rd, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- The way crumpled on the mound in tears on Monday night, it probably wasn’t fair to expect truly good news on Tuesday. But the Pirates are hoping their rookie reliever will avoid the worst-case scenario as they send him for a second opinion.

The Pirates placed Burdi on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday before the team's 2-1 loss to the D-backs. The team still listed his injury as “right elbow/bicep pain,” the same thing that was announced when Burdi exited Monday’s 12-4 loss to the D-backs in the eighth inning. Pittsburgh also confirmed that Burdi is in the process of receiving a second opinion from Dr. Keith Meister, who performed Burdi’s Tommy John surgery two years ago.

Burdi’s initial exam revealed a strained biceps tendon and flexor mass, according to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, but showed no complete tears or broken bones in his elbow. Those results seemingly indicate that the 26-year-old might not require surgery. The Pirates announced that Burdi received an MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) but did not comment on or confirm the results of that test or ESPN’s report.

“I’m not going to get caught up in the initial diagnosis yet. I want to let this thing play out,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A lot of people like to get information out first. I’m a big fan of getting information out that’s correct and accurate. We’ll just wait and see, man.

“We’re hoping for the best. A lot of thoughts and prayers going his way. We’ll wait and see what happens.”

Even if Burdi has to miss a significant amount of time, a strained biceps tendon and flexor mass would seem to be an encouraging outcome considering the excruciating pain the right-hander appeared to feel on Monday night. He immediately grabbed his right biceps and elbow after throwing a 96.7 mph fastball to Arizona’s Jarrod Dyson, bent over while holding his throwing elbow, fell to his knees, rolled over and collapsed on the mound in tears.

The Pirates were clearly distraught by the sight, with reliever Kyle Crick calling his teammate’s injury “heart-wrenching” and starter Joe Musgrove saying it was “heartbreaking.” Burdi, still awaiting his second opinion, was not available to comment before Tuesday’s game at PNC Park.

With Burdi on the injured list, the Pirates recalled left-hander Steven Brault from Triple-A Indianapolis a day after they optioned him to make room for the return of right fielder Gregory Polanco. Brault was planning to rejoin the Triple-A squad on Tuesday, so he was at home in Pittsburgh watching the Pirates’ game on Monday night.

“Talked to him last night after the game and said, ‘Would you mind rejoining us?’” Hurdle said. “He saw the game. He’s here today.”

With a seven-man bullpen consisting of two converted starters, Brault and Nick Kingham, Hurdle said the Pirates are ready to use setup man Keone Kela on a more frequent basis. Pittsburgh recently avoided having Kela pitch on consecutive days to get the right-hander back on track after some early struggles.

Gonzalez hoping for healthy recovery

Shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who is on the 60-day injured list, said he will visit another doctor later this week to receive a second opinion on his fractured left clavicle. Gonzalez sustained the injury on Friday, when he ran into center fielder Starling Marte in a collision that sent both players to the injured list.

“I feel much better than the first day,” said Gonzalez, wincing as he clasped a sling around his right shoulder. “It’s a process. Every day I feel a little better.”

Gonzalez isn’t sure how long he’ll be sidelined, but he won’t play for the Pirates for at least two months due to his placement on the 60-day IL. He hopes to have a clearer plan for his rehabilitation after receiving a second opinion.

General manager Neal Huntington said on Sunday that Gonzalez was feeling “really down,” because he was injured after finally getting a long-awaited opportunity to play every day. Huntington said he reminded Gonzalez that Pittsburgh still values him and expects him to help the team win later this season.

“They gave me the opportunity to play every day, so I’ll try to be smart -- and quick, too,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t want to [return] too quick. … I want to be healthy first, so I can stay on the field when I come back.”