PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett's simulated game Tuesday went well, and the 36-year-old righty is scheduled to throw a bullpen session at 10 a.m. ET Thursday. He has been on the disabled list since June 14 with a Grade 1 tear in his right calf.
"How he feels with that could put him in a position to return to pitch," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Burnett hopes to avoid a rehab start, and Hurdle hasn't given any thought as to whether or not Burnett will need one.
But Hurdle said that traditionally, players who return from rehab starts are sharper than those who skip them. Burnett, however, didn't injure his arm.
"We haven't given it any thought other than taking it one day at a time," Hurdle said. "He has his own personal feelings, that he's going to continue to do the work he needs to do.
"We'll talk. That's what we'll continue to do."
With Jeanmar Gomez in the bullpen, the Pirates currently have just four starters in the rotation, and have not set a starter for Sunday's game against the Cubs.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.