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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cubs' James McDonald pitches to live hitters for first time in 10 months


By on 2/22/2014 11:30:00 AM

The Chicago Cubs finished 2013 with a 66-96 record and were in need of upgrades at many positions.  The pitching staff had an ERA of 4.00, 21st in the Major Leagues. In attempts to bolster the pitching, the Cubs signed several pitchers this off season, including 28-year old right-hander James McDonald. Although McDonald pitched in only six games last season due to a shoulder injury, the Cubs felt his upside was worth the gamble when they signed him to a minor league contract earlier this month.  McDonald made a step in the right direction in his recovery on Friday.


runneralan2004 via Wikimedia Commons

As reported by Carrie Muskat at MLB.com, McDonald pitched live batting-practice on Friday, which was the first time he's faced a batter in 10 months.  Although it was just batting practice at Spring Training, McDonald was happy with the progress he's made.

"This is the first time I was throwing without thinking about my arm in a while. I was like, 'OK, my arm feels good.' It was fun to be able to get out there and throw off the mound to a hitter."

McDonald doesn't know when he'll be ready to pitch in a game, but his goal is to stay healthy and keep improving. He's taking the recovery process one step at a time and not getting ahead of himself.

"A lot of times when you first see a batter, you speed up. You get a couple times out and you start relaxing and you're good. The first time out, seeing batters in a while, I feel like I got a little [rushed]."
McDonald was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2002 amateur draft.  He's pitched for the Dodgers and Pirates over parts of six seasons.  His best season was 2012 when he went 12-8 with a 4.21 ERA. In 171 innings, he allowed only 147 hits and struck out 151.  McDonald has a career record of 32-20 with a 4.20 ERA.

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