A.J. Burnett will pitch through hernia injury

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Philadelphia Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

A doctor injected A.J. Burnett with cortisone Monday morning to dull the pain in his groin. He advised the 37-year-old pitcher he will require surgery at some point to correct a small inguinal hernia. For Burnett, this was good news.

"I'm going to go about Wednesday like nothing happened," Burnett said.

He will start Wednesday and plans to pitch through the injury for the remainder of the season. Surgery, then, would follow. Until then, Burnett said, he must tolerate pain.

"I'm going to have to deal with it," Burnett said. "Paying attention to it, knowing it's there, knowing what I can do to overdo it and knowing what I can do to keep it where it needs to be. I'm more of a go-getter and I'm not really a take-it-easy kind of guy, so it's going to be a test."

Burnett said the diagnosis "freed up" his mind because he knows no serious further damage can come from pitching. He spoke with pitchers who both endured the pain and others who succumbed to it. Burnett said his bullpen session Sunday encouraged him; he felt pain just twice.

The injury, Burnett said, contributed to his erratic control. He walked six batters in each of his last two starts. He played catch Monday after the injection. Burnett signed a one-year, $16 million contract in February.

Cole Hamels pitched part of the 2011 season with an inguinal hernia. He eventually underwent offseason surgery to repair it. Doctors told Burnett that surgery would require between six and eight weeks of recovery time.

"It seemed like the guys that couldn't [pitch], it was just because it was there and constantly bothering them and affecting them out there."

Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Burnett can manage the injury because it is not a sports hernia.

"It's something a lot of males have issues with," Proefrock said. "It's something you can be active with and manage. That's the plan for now."


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