| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates' McDonald denies any injury issues

Getty Images - Pirates right-hander James McDonald allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings Monday during a loss to the Cardinals. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates right-hander James McDonald allowed eight runs in 1.2 innings Monday during a loss to the Cardinals. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage talks with pitcher James McDonald during the second inning of Monday's game at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage talks with pitcher James McDonald during the second inning of Monday's game at PNC Park.

Pirates/MLB Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Losing steam

James McDonald's average fastball velocity:

Year MPH

2008 91.5

2009 92.8

2010 92.4

2011 92.7

2012 91.8

2013 89.8


Pirates podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 5:39 p.m.

Struggling pitcher James McDonald insists he is healthy and, for now, the Pirates are inclined to believe him.

“I'm fine,” McDonald said Tuesday. “It's just one of those times when my body just doesn't feel too well and I have to battle through it. My body feels a little beat up. Long road trip, coming back here, I've got to get adjusted to the workload I'm putting on myself.”

The right-hander gave up eight runs in 1 23 innings Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals. McDonald's fastball sat around 90 mph, continuing a trend that began midway through 2012.

Last year, McDonald's average velocity peaked at 92.9 mph in June. By the end of the season, it was down to 91.8 mph — tailing off as he skidded through a second-half slump.

Even when he's on the mound, McDonald is aware his velocity is down.

“I'm throwing it. I can feel it,” he said. “But you don't have your good stuff every single time. You have to battle through it.”

After the game, manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington were briefed by head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk and pitching coach Ray Searage. After that, McDonald was called into the manager's office.

“Is he 100 percent on top of his game? No,” Hurdle said. “He's not feeling anything that he doesn't think is manageable. It's perplexing to some degree. We'll have the trainers and our strength and conditioning guy continue to monitor some stuff. We'll try to evaluate this day by day.”

Hurdle seemed to rule out the possibility of McDonald skipping a start.

“At this time, I don't have any information to lead me in that direction,” Hurdle said.

McDonald doesn't want to ease up on the mound or with his between-starts workouts.

“Maybe I'll turn it up, more than anything, rather than back off,” McDonald said. “Your brain will adjust to whatever you do. If I back off, my brain will adjust to that. If I turn it on more, my body will adjust to more of a workload.”

Hurdle said he believes McDonald was telling the truth about being healthy. Yet, the veteran manager knows from firsthand experience that players usually are reluctant to admit they're injured.

“A long time ago, I was a player,” Hurdle said. “If I had something that hurt me, I didn't run to a coach and tell him. I sure didn't run to the manager and tell him. You don't do that. It's not the way you're brought up; it's not the way you play. We were taught you play through things and figure it out.

“But it gets to a point where we all know our 80 percent might not be as good as somebody else's 100 percent. That's what we continue to have conversations about with them. We want to push them through some things. We don't want them, at the first little sign of something not feeling right, that they're out, they miss a start or they can't play two games. It's a fine line.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  2. Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 28, 2015
  3. Pirates notebook: No sign of improvement for RHP Sadler
  4. Pirates minor league report: Moore a breakout star in Morgantown
  5. Cole collects MLB-best 14th win as Pirates take series against Nationals
  6. Making splash at MLB trade deadline not always in buyers’ best interest
  7. Starting 9: Pirates help and the illusion of help
  8. Nationals pound Burnett, Pirates
  9. Pirates notebook: Ramirez thrown into spotlight upon joining Pirates
  10. Gameday: Pirates vs. Nationals, July 26, 2015
  11. Pirates bats awaken, Liriano looks strong in win against Nationals