Although it seems likely that he’ll need surgery down the road, A.J. Burnett is preparing to pitch the rest of the season for the Philadelphia Phillies with a painful hernia.
Now he’ll try to slow down the surging Atlanta Braves just six days after having to cut his last start short.
Burnett and the Phillies look to salvage a win in this rain-shortened three-game series Thursday while putting an end to the visiting Braves’ five-game win streak.
In Friday’s 6-3 home victory over Miami, Burnett (0-1, 3.94 ERA) allowed two runs and five hits while walking six over 4 1-3 innings before leaving because of discomfort.
While it certainly appeared the right-hander would miss at least one start and might even have to go on the disabled list, he received a cortisone injection Monday and insists on playing through the injury.
"I didn’t know if it was hip, groin, whether I tweaked something or pulled something," Burnett told the team’s official website. "Now that I know upstairs what I’m dealing with, I can deal with it a lot better."
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels pitched with an inguinal hernia in 2011, finishing 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA on the way to fifth place in NL Cy Young Award voting before undergoing surgery following the season.
Burnett now tries for a fourth time to win his first game since joining the Phillies (6-8). After allowing one run over six innings before the bullpen blew his lead in a 3-2 loss at Texas on April 1, he’s given up 10 runs – six earned – and walked 12 over 10 innings in his last two outings.
Burnett has struggled in his career against the Braves (10-4), going 5-12 with a 4.14 ERA in 21 appearances and losing seven of his last eight decisions.
He’s had trouble with Gerald Laird (5 for 8), Justin Upton (3 for 5), Jason Heyward (4 for 8) and Chris Johnson (4 for 8), but B.J. Upton is 9 for 46 with 17 strikeouts and Dan Uggla has gone 2 for 10 while striking out five times.
Following Tuesday’s rainout, Evan Gattis homered and had a career-high four hits and Julio Teheran threw a three-hitter in a 1-0 win Wednesday. Gattis is 9 for 13 with three homers in his last three games, while Johnson added three hits in his first start since Saturday.
Gattis is also 8 for 12 with five home runs in his last three contests at Citizens Bank Park.
After Teheran became the ninth Braves starter to allow no more than one run, Atlanta hopes to get another solid outing out of Alex Wood (2-1, 1.89). Though he didn’t have his best stuff Saturday, Wood allowed one run while striking out eight in five innings of a 6-3 win over visiting Washington.
The left-hander is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in seven appearances – two starts – against Philadelphia.
The Phillies have fared well against left-handers this season, batting .315 with seven home runs in 127 at-bats.
Atlanta might not have the services of closer Craig Kimbrel, who hasn’t pitched due to shoulder discomfort since saving Wood’s win Saturday.