Sean Burnett will avoid another surgery.
Burnett, the Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2000, and several doctors decided yesterday against a minor procedure to relieve some nerve discomfort in his once-again ailing left elbow. He will get a cortisone shot next week, then begin a throwing program in Bradenton, Fla., with an eye toward a return to Class AAA Indianapolis' rotation later this month.
"We'll see how it goes," Burnett said yesterday. "In the best case, everything will be just fine. The worst case is that I have surgery and still would be ready for spring training next year."
Burnett was examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist, in Birmingham, Ala. Andrews backed the Pirates' medical opinion that there was no damage to the elbow ligament that was reconstructed in 2004.
But Andrews did find issues related to Burnett's radial nerve in that elbow and recommended that a nerve specialist examine him, which happened Wednesday.
The nerve was found to be slightly out of place, and minor surgery to relocate it was discussed. That would have kept Burnett out for two months and ended his season. But all concerned, including Burnett, agreed there was no point in taking that route now.
Burnett, 24, is 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts for Indianapolis.
Torres to return Monday
Reliever Salomon Torres flew to Rochester, N.Y., yesterday, where he will join Indianapolis for a rehabilitation stint tonight. If all goes well in two appearances over the weekend, he will rejoin the Pirates Monday for their home game against the Colorado Rockies.
Torres' side session Wednesday at PNC Park went "very, very well," according to manager Jim Tracy, and reminded pitching coach Jim Colborn of the dominant way Torres was throwing late last season.
Back in the groove
All of the Pirates except second baseman Freddy Sanchez -- given an extra day off after the All-Star Game -- participated in a light workout at PNC Park last night in advance of their game tonight in Atlanta.
Tracy spoke optimistically of extending that 9-4 run they took into the break.
"What makes that stretch of 13 games much more intriguing is the fact that we beat some very good clubs in the process," Tracy said.
The Pirates had not taken a series from a winning team until ending that run with victories against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs.
"You just hope that we can get on the same kind of roll right away. And, given the manner in which we've been playing, I'm hopeful that can happen."
Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit, who missed the final game before the break because of a sore left hamstring, participated in all drills last night. Tracy said more would be known about his playing status today.
The Pirates signed right-handed reliever Jose Paniagua to a minor-league contract. Paniagua, 34, made 270 appearances in the majors in 1996-2003 -- 4.49 ERA, 13 saves -- but he has played in Mexico the past three seasons.
Justin Vaclavik, a pitching prospect at Class AA Altoona, was placed on the minor-league disabled list because of a hyperextended left knee.
Bill Mazeroski and Ralph Kiner will be part of the ensemble on hand for the Pirates' retirement of Paul Waner's No. 11 July 21 at PNC Park. Mazeroski and Kiner are among the eight players already honored that way.
INDIANAPOLIS (48-42) lost at Rochester, 11-3. RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (0-2, 11.12) allowed five runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. RHP Jesse Chavez (3.29) pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. RF Yurendell DeCaster (.291) went 2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI. SS Brian Bixler (.293) went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and committed his 14th error.
ALTOONA (44-44) lost to Akron, 10-4. LHP Josh Shortslef (2-9, 4.29) allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings. CF Andrew McCutchen (.240) went 1 for 4. 1B Steve Pearce (.326) went 0 for 3 with a walk.
LYNCHBURG (38-49) won at Frederick, 6-3. RHP Derek Hankins (8-3, 4.63) allowed three runs in seven innings. SS Greg Picart (.234) hit his first home run, a grand slam, and went 2 for 4 with a double and five RBIs.
HICKORY (37-49) won at West Virginia, 7-3. RHP Brad Clapp (3-7, 6.52) allowed three runs in five innings. RF Jonel Pacheco (.304) hit his 14th home run and went 1 for 4 with a walk and two RBIs. 3B Eddie Prasch (.232) hit his sixth home run and went 1 for 4 with two RBIs.
STATE COLLEGE (12-10) lost to Oneonta, 4-3. RHP Moises Robles (1-4, 4.13) allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings. LHP Mike Felix (0.00), the Pirates' second-round draft pick in 2006 freshly demoted from Class A Hickory, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. SS Michael Ambrose (.333) went 3 for 4.
BRADENTON (8-11) was off.