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Notes: Burnett cleared to start Thursday

Notes: Burnett cleared for Thursday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jays starter A.J. Burnett threw a bullpen session Monday at the Metrodome, and the righty said he feels good enough to start against the Twins on Thursday.

Burnett last pitched on June 12, but came out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a sore shoulder.

"Every time you feel something, you're worried about it. Obviously, if it's enough to bring me out of a ballgame, then it's going to concern me," Burnett said. "The MRI [exam] the next morning was fine, and these guys have gotten me healthy before in the past and I've seen them take care of [Roy Halladay] for a long time, so I trust everything that our trainers and doctors have to say."

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The trainers and doctors agree that Burnett is fine to pitch on Thursday, but he will be on a pitch count. In the three games before he went on the disabled list, Burnett averaged 124 pitches per outing.

"I hope Thursday I'm on 140 pitches," Burnett joked. "That's just how I'm made. It won't be anywhere near that, but they'll take care of me. They've done a good job doing this."

Fatigue may have been the reason for Burnett's trip to the disabled list, but after almost two weeks of resting his arm, he said he feels great. He's been keeping his legs in shape with cardio and weight workouts.

"I'm in shape to go that long, and I think I just needed a rest," Burnett said. "It got down to I needed to calm down a little bit. I'm not 24 years old anymore."

Manager John Gibbons said that he had confidence in Burnett and has no worries about his return on Thursday.

Burnett may be eager to get back on the hill in the Metrodome. In his last start in Minneapolis, Burnett threw a three-hitter, but because the Jays could only offer two runs in support, he took the loss.

The one that didn't get away: While Dustin McGowan came within three outs of pitching a no-hitter Sunday, Burnett was reliving the memories of his own.

Burnett's no-no came when he was a member of the Marlins' staff on May 12, 2001, against the San Diego Padres. He even remembers the last pitch he threw that day, a 1-0 fastball to Phil Nevin.

"I think I stepped off with two outs and looked up and smiled because the whole crowd was on their feet in San Diego," Burnett reminisced. "It's a feeling you can't express. It's unbelievable."

McGowan, on Sunday, gave much credit to the more veteran pitchers on the Jays staff, like Burnett and Halladay, for their advice. But Burnett's advice had nothing to do with mechanics or how to pitch to certain batters.

"He has a lot of people talking to him. Everybody always has an answer, so whether it's me or [Halladay], everybody's got an opinion," Burnett said. "I basically told him one day that you've just got to forget everything that everyone's said, and when we're done talking, forget what A.J.'s said and go out there and just do what you were meant to do, man."

Burnett credited McGowan's vast improvement and almost history-making effort to confidence and the attitude that he has on the mound.

"He's definitely grown up a lot, and he's taken it upon himself to make sure he believes that he belongs, and he does," Burnett said. "That's the big difference right now. He knows that he can pitch at this level, and he knows now that he should have been here a long time ago pitching this way."

Overbay update: Injured first baseman Lyle Overbay stood in the batter's box Monday during Burnett's bullpen session to work on his sense of timing and pitch recognition.

Overbay has been on the DL since his right hand was broken by a pitch on June 3. He had four pins inserted into his hand and has not taken any swings since then.

Overbay has continued strength training workouts to keep his lower body in shape, and he hopes to be back when the Jays play in Boston after the All-Star break.

Overbay plans to hit off a tee with a fungo bat on Tuesday.

The waiting is the hardest part: Frank Thomas is poised and ready to hit his 500th career home run, and the Twins are a fitting team to hit it against.

Thomas has 49 home runs against the Twins, his most against any team. He's gone deep in the Metrodome 15 times in his career, and once already this year off Tuesday's starter Scott Baker.

"He's a big strong guy. He hasn't hit 499 by mistake," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He hits home runs. You hope when he does it, if he does it, that it's without men on base. Solo jobs are a lot better than those two- or three-run jobs."

Thomas, who has 12 home runs this season, has hit four homers in his last seven games.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Syracuse was shut out, 8-0, in its loss to Scranton/Wilks-Barre on Sunday. Wayne Lydon was the only Chiefs player to tally two hits, with a double and a triple. ... Double-A New Hampshire fell victim to Portland on Sunday with an 8-3 loss. Chip Cannon went 2-for-3 and Jean Machi came in and threw three scoreless innings of relief, yielding only one hit. ... Class A Dunedin dropped a close game to St. Lucie on Sunday, 6-5. Chris Gutierrez hit a two-run home run, his first of the season.

Up next: The Blue Jays send Shaun Marcum (4-2, 3.38 ERA) to the mound to face off against Baker (2-2, 6.75) on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET.

Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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