James McDonald didn't have a good rehab start in the GCL. Photo Credit: David Hague

James McDonald to Remain on the DL

James McDonald will remain on the disabled list as he experiences shoulder discomfort, according to Michael Sanserino.

Sanserino updates that to say that there was a scheduling conflict with Dr. James Andrews.


James McDonald will remain on the DL. Photo Credit: David Hague

James McDonald will remain on the DL. Photo Credit: David Hague

I wrote about McDonald last night, and how the Pirates could give him a few weeks to work out of the bullpen before they had to make a decision on him. The timing of this move would be convenient to those who were predicting a phantom injury to come up, which would allow the Pirates to spend a little more time rehabbing McDonald. Of course that’s not saying McDonald isn’t actually hurt. In fact, I’ve been saying since the start of the season that there have been warning signs of an injury, mostly with the loss in velocity.

In 2010 and 2011 he was close to 96 MPH for his maximum velocity on his fastball. His average velocity was around 92.5. In 2012 those numbers dropped to 95 and 91.8. This year he has seen a big drop. His maximum velocity has been 93.2 MPH, which is almost 2 MPH slower than last year, and 3 MPH slower than 2010-11. His average is 90.4, which is almost 1.5 MPH less than last year, and almost 2 MPH slower than the year before. Usually a velocity drop like that indicates an injury, and since McDonald has been having issues with his shoulder, and now they’re considering sending him to Dr. James Andrews, it seems like there’s a legitimate injury to worry about.

If there is an injury, McDonald probably wouldn’t be back this year. If it’s just soreness, the Pirates could hold him out longer, and delay any decisions on him until closer to September. This doesn’t really have any big impact on the roster either way. McDonald wasn’t projected to take a rotation spot, and the bullpen spot he would have taken would have been one of the final two spots, which will remain occupied by either Ryan Reid or Duke Welker (whichever one remains when Jeanmar Gomez gets activated).

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • buc em all

    Good take Morton with u jmac

    • deacs

      Whoever said pulled giblet muscle nailed it. Gotta take the giblet muscle seriously.

  • Jeremy J Stein

    Is it wrong for me to hope it is an injury so JMac can have surgery, fix what ever is the problem, come back sometime next year with 2011/2012 velocity and prove that 2012 wasn’t a fluke?

    • Jeremy J Stein

      Heh, “what ever is the problem.”
      Should be “whatever the problem is”.
      I’m going to blame that on lack of sleep.

    • Susanne Klich Langford

      At least now we probably know why J-Mac has struggled so badly the last year. You hate to hear shoulder injury for a guy that had as good of an arm as he had. Hope he ends up on the better side of the shoulder injury rather than never being the same again.

  • MaineBucs

    Hey Buc em All

    Morton comes back from major surgery on schedule and in my opinion, has pitched reasonably well considering that he hasn’t faced major league hitters for a year.

    While I was not prepared to give J-Mac time in the majors to see if he can still get anyone out, Morton has already demonstrated that he can keep the Pirates in a game and deliver some innings to a starting staff that really needs innings and arms.

    I for one am very happy with Morton’s return and I look for him to improve as he pitches more innings.

    Oh — and while he give up some hits against the Angels, he was the victim of the worst inning of play by the Pirate’s defense this year.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Agree on all fronts about Morton, Maine. Morton is an extreme groundball pitcher who did just that in the inning and was victimized by his defense. It would probably be in his best interest to start Barmes when Morton pitches to increase the infield defense. Sure, you sacrifice offense but with Charlie’s GB rate, its a necessary move due to Mercer’s limited range.

      • Bryan Graham

        It’s quite funny to see people still buying the fairy tale that Barmes is so much better of a defender than Mercer is. FYI, it was all a ploy to give reason to start Barmes at SS. I watch all the games and have seen absolutely nothing that supports Barmes having an incredible range advantage over Mercer, in fact I have seen 0 in the way of defensive regression in the least at SS.

        • Tim Williams

          Did you miss Charlie Morton’s last start?

          • Bryan Graham

            No, I saw it. I’ve also seen Barmes make plenty of poor plays and errors. I might have missed something, but the only thing I noticed with Mercer was dropping the ball during an exchange while getting taken out by a baserunner. I’m not saying you do, but people act like Barmes makes Ozzie Smith look like he was playing with 2 feet stuck in the mud. If there is a range difference between Mercer and Barmes I haven’t seen anything to show me it’s anything noticeable. I do know as a SS Mercer has a higher fielding %, range factor per 9, and Range Factor per game numbers than Barmes does although I admit I really don’t understand the range factor stats or the stats that Barmes is better in such as Rtot and Rdrs. Regardless Mercer’s offense is so far superior to that of Barmes that barring a total defensive collapse by Mercer to where he is a huge liabilty, then Barmes shouldn’t see the outside of the dugout .

    • joe g.

      Totally agree. I would like to see Morton go to his 4 seam a little more when he is struggling to throw the two seamer for strikes. Also would like to see him bust left handers inside with the 4 seam instead of throwing the 2 seamer on the outer half.

  • emjayinTN

    Hey folks, nothing wrong with Charlie Morton, but he may be another victim of a franchise who has hit long balls on every pitcher they gambled with, and these pitchers are younger, bigger, stronger, and much more talented. The Pirates have to do everything they can to give the youngsters wings and avoid the dreaded over-cooking that could come from not pushing them as fast as they want to go. All of the prospect pitchers are putting up fantastic performances at advanced levels for their ages, and the one struggling the most could be the best we have at any level and that is Jameson Taillon.

  • brilemon

    Why is UCLA copying the zoltan symbol? It’s like if cal u had a “horrible towel”.

  • PirateTom
  • emjayinTN

    Tom: Nice having a 25 year old Rookie that just goes out and does his 7 IP, 2 ER, 4K/2W, raises his record to 7-1, and watched his ERA climb from 2.01 to 2.06. Not bad either are guys that the GM provided this year like Francisco Liriano and Jeanmar Gomez; or one of the best pitching prospects in 2013 that just comes up and goes 3-0. I cannot remember a time when the Pirates were so deep in quality pitching, both in the bullpen and in the Rotation, and this is a time when we can afford to allow guys like Wandy, Burnett, JMAC, and Morton to work their way back into shape.

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