McDonald Ready For New Start

Righthander happy with opportunity in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH—Righthander James McDonald was the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year in 2007 and 2008, and he made it the majors as a reliever in 2009, apparently well on his way.

But McDonald insists he never let go of his dream of starting, so when the Dodgers sent him to the Pirates at the trade deadline as part of the Octavio Dotel trade, McDonald sounded delighted. His reason: The Dodgers rotation had no room, and the Pirates used him as a starter right away.

"I want to start," McDonald said. "That's how I've always seen myself."

McDonald, 25, was 5-6, 4.11 in 53 appearances, only five of those starts, for Los Angeles last year. He was sent back to Triple-A Albuquerque this year to resume starting, and he went 6-1, 4.41.

McDonald is a lanky 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, and has a three-pitch mix—fastball up to 95 mph, curveball, and a changeup that produced four of those eight strikeouts—plus a slider in progress.

McDonald has had far better numbers as a reliever than starter, especially in the majors, but he sounded confident that will change.

"It's just a matter of getting out there, day in, day out, learning major league hitters," he said. "I looked back at film of my starts from last year, and I'd ask myself, 'Why did I throw him that pitch when I didn't have to show that to him?' Get back into a starting role, that's the kind of thing you think about. You think how you're going to get him out the second and third time."


• Center fielder Starling Marte, one of the Pirates' top prospects, returned to full action with high Class A Bradenton after missing 21⁄2 months to surgery on his left hand to remove the hook of the hamate bone. Marte was off to a 6-for-14 start.

• Lefthander Rudy Owens continued to shine for Double-A Altoona. He was 9-6, 2.85, and he had allowed three earned runs over three starts, including another gem in which he retired his final 17 batters.