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MLB Hot Stove: A.J. Becomes a True Pirate™

As the first day of March nears its end, Opening Day draws closer! Major League Baseball will be playing games by the end of the month, with Oakland and Seattle facing off in Japan at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29. The Yankees will get a taste of baseball tomorrow when they play against the University of South Florida. No word yet on whether USF will confuse Colin Curtis for one of its own players.

Here's what's going on around the league:

  • A.J. Burnett was struck in the eye by a botched bunt attempt in batting practice for the Pirates, and he will need immediate surgery to fix his fractured right orbital bone. He'll miss a few weeks and will not be ready for Opening Day. Those poor Pirates fans... what do you think, "Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke"?

Pat Lackey ‏ @whygavs

Seriously, being a Pirate fan is the worst.

  • More injury news, though this really shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who follows baseball at this point--Grady Sizemore of the Indians had "minimally invasive" lower back surgery on Thursday, which requires eight to twelve weeks of recovery. Sizemore's injuries have turned him from Sports Illustrated Cover Boy and regular All-Star/MVP candidate to a limping 29-year old who has only played 210 games since 2009. What a shame.
  • SB Nation's Grant Brisbee wrote about the five-year, $7 million contract extension that the Royals recently gave young catcher Salvador Perez. Its uniqueness is truly unprecedented, as Brisbee notes:

    I've seen it referred to as an Evan Longoria/Matt Moore-type of contract. It isn't. Those are players who were expected to be stars but signed for regular-player money. This is a player expected to be a regular who signed for bargain prices in exchange for financial security. I don't remember a contract like it.

  • Mike Axisa of MLB Trade Rumors previewed a possible extension for the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton ("Mike" wants to go by Giancarlo now). He could certainly command a Zimmerman-esque contract, especially since it has now been established after the team's zany offseason that they have money to spend.
  • The Cardinals, who granted catcher Yadier Molina a five-year, $75 million contract extension, validated the deal by referring to Molina as a "a signature player, a franchise-type player" and the best catcher in baseball. I'm not sure I agree with that assessment though.