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Pirates scratch McDonald from Tuesday start

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 5:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher James McDonald throws against the Cubs on April 4, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher James McDonald poses for a portrait during the team's photo day on Feb. 17, 2013, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.

A sore shoulder landed Pirates right-hander James McDonald on the disabled list Tuesday, about two hours before he was slated to pitch against the Mariners.

But, even with an entire starting rotation's worth of pitchers out of action, general manager Neal Huntington insisted he will not call up top prospect Gerrit Cole.

“I'll stop the speculation right now,” Huntington said. “It is not going to be Gerrit Cole on Sunday. We have other internal options.”

Righty Jeanmar Gomez, who made a spot start May 1, started Tuesday against the Mariners. Huntington said Gomez is a candidate to take the next turn Sunday against the Mets.

McDonald will be out at least 15 days due to what a team spokesman described only as “discomfort” in his right shoulder. He will be examined by a team doctor on Wednesday.

Despite subpar performance and reduced velocity on his fastball, McDonald insisted the past couple of weeks that he is healthy. In his last start April 30 against the Brewers, McDonald (2-2, 5.76 ERA) gave up seven runs on eight hits in five innings.

“After my last start, I noticed it was a little more sore than usual,” McDonald said. “(Tuesday), it felt way more sore than it should on a start day, so I said something (to a trainer). I've never felt anything like this in my career. I might have waited a little too long to say something.”

McDonald said he doesn't feel uneasy about what the doctor might find.

“It will be a relief to find out what's going on in there and what I need to do to get better,” McDonald. “The uneasy part was not knowing when to speak up and say something. I wanted to fight through it, but if you want to do the team justice, you have to say something.”

Huntington was optimistic McDonald won't be out too long.

“With the off day (May 20), if James is healthy on day seven, then he'll just miss two starts,” Huntington said. “If he's not healthy, we'll adjust from there.”

The Pirates have limited options. Charlie Morton (elbow surgery) hoped to be activated May 14, but had a setback Friday when his shoulder tightened during a rehab start. Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) reported to extended spring training Monday and is only beginning his rehab process.

The two best candidates at Class AAA Indianapolis are Cole (2-1, 2.45 ERA) and lefty Andy Oliver (2-1, 2.82).

When Cole was sent down to minor league camp during spring training, Huntington said the club would never rush his development to fill a hole at the big league level.

Infielder Josh Harrison was recalled from Indy to fill McDonald's roster spot. That move was made almost instantly because Harrison was in Pittsburgh, Huntington said, in case outfielder Jose Tabata (hamstring) needed to go on the DL.

Another move could happen Wednesday, if the Pirates opt to bring up a fresh reliever.

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

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