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Posted: Saturday March 10, 2012 3:04PM ; Updated: Saturday March 10, 2012 3:04PM

Burnett returns to Pirates camp after injury

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett returned to spring training camp on Saturday, eight days after having surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone.

Burnett has been cleared to resume workouts as part of a return-to-pitch progression. He rode an exercise bike and played catch for 50 throws in the bullpen.

Burnett said the Pirates will take a conservative approach to his rehab. He is expected to be out two to three months.

"The first few (throws) were a little hairy, I'm not going to lie," Burnett said. "But it went fine. I've got a lot of catching up to do. I'm glad to be back down here with the guys."

The Pirates acquired Burnett on the first day of spring training in a three-player trade with the New York Yankees. He was injured Feb. 29 when he fouled a ball off his right eye during a bunting drill.

Burnett had surgery March 2 at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

"There's not much I could've done, other than pull the bat back," Burnett said. "You can't look back at it. I had my day of tears, lying in the hotel room wondering why it happened. I'm over that now. I want to move in a positive direction and get back on the field."

To repair the fracture, Dr. Randall Beatty attached a thumb-sized piece of plastic onto the bone.

Burnett said choosing to have surgery was a "no-brainer" because he otherwise would have run the risk of developing double vision. Burnett's right eye was swollen shut for a few days after the injury happened and was slightly blurry later, but he said is vision now is fine.

"For what I do, my eyesight is pretty important, so why take a chance of it not healing the right way," Burnett said. "They could've let it heal, but there's a chance it wouldn't heal smooth, the eye wouldn't move right and there'd be double vision."

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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