Share This Page

Pirates notebook: Struggling McDonald cut loose

| Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pitcher James McDonald, shown here in a game April 15, 2013, was designated for assignment Saturday.

ST. LOUIS — James McDonald finally is healthy enough to resume his career as a big league pitcher, but he will not do it with the Pirates.

The Pirates reinstated McDonald from the 60-day disabled list Saturday and immediately designated him for assignment.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the timing of the move was designed “to give (McDonald) an opportunity to catch on with another team while the major league season is on.”

McDonald is making $3.025 million this year. With two years of arbitration eligibility left, he would have been even pricier if the Pirates wanted to bring him back next season.

“We did not see that coming to fruition at those kind of dollars,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “He feels healthy and ready to compete, but we've got guys ahead of him. We talked to his agent, and rather than bringing him up and just letting him sit here, we decided to make a change.”

The right-hander has been out of action since May 1 due to what the team termed “right shoulder discomfort.” On July 2, McDonald was examined by orthopedic specialist Dr. Keith Meister, who found no structural damage in the shoulder.

McDonald started six games this season and went 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. He made 10 mostly lackluster rehab outings with rookie-level Bradenton, High-A Bradenton, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

“I think he tried hard,” Hurdle said. “He tried to figure it out. The coaches tried to coach. At the end of the day, sometimes things just don't work. It just didn't come together for James.”

Last year, McDonald earned the moniker “King James” by going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA before the All-Star break. In the second half of the season, however, he went 3-5 with a 7.52 ERA and eventually was booted from the starting rotation.

Burnett's St. Louis blues

Right-hander A.J. Burnett was pulled Friday after giving up five runs in three innings. It was his shortest outing since May 2, 2012, when he allowed 12 runs in 2 23 innings, also against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium

In four career starts at the new Busch Stadium, Burnett has a 13.50 ERA. He had a 2.08 ERA in three outings at the old ballpark, which was demolished after the 2005 season.

“They seem to get hold of me here,” Burnett said. “I don't make pitches here. I haven't, but I will. They've got a good lineup. Point your finger at me, not the ballpark.”

Burnett won't have to worry about pitching at Busch Stadium again this year — unless the Pirates meet the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Around the horn

Before the game Saturday, Starling Marte was activated off the DL. ... Right-hander Brandon Cumpton was recalled from Indy. Hurdle said Cumpton could be used in relief to piggyback a starter and/or to make a spot start. ... Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (forearm tightness, arthritis), who made a rehab start Friday, will be re-evaluated Sunday. If he feels well enough, Rodriguez could make a 75-pitch rehab start Thursday for Low-A West Virginia if it is still alive in the South Atlantic League playoffs. The Pirates' 40-man roster is full, so a corresponding move must be made when Rodriguez comes off the DL.

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.