McDonald improves, roster moves
I remember when journeyman minor leaguer Darnell McDonald was up here to start the season, fans were far from pleased. First, McDonald made the 25-man roster over the more popular Jonny Gomes. He even started on Opening Day because Willy Taveras was out. Then he struggled mightily and there was an awful lot of attention paid to the 25th man on the roster.
McDonald was designated for assignment on May 22 after he batted .175. But if you’re a 30-year-old former No. 1 draft pick that spent 11 years in the minors, you know something about resiliency. He batted .314 for Triple-A Louisville and was brought back up last week.
“He’s played very well,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I saw the talent level there. It’s just a matter of putting too much pressure on himself when he was here the first time and trying to stay. He went down and played, got his stroke and everything together and really contributed.”
McDonald has featured prominent in several games. In a 13-inning game at Milwaukee, he forced extras by throwing out Ryan Braun at the plate from left field. The next day, he hit the game-winning double over Braun’s head in the 10th inning. McDonald hit a two-run homer — the first of his career — in Sunday’s loss and in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader with the Pirates, he scored the winning run a wild pitch.
“When you play to try to be perfect and not make mistakes, you make more mistakes,” McDonald said. “Now I want to play loose and have fun. If you make a mistake playing aggressive, that’s fine.”
After Game 1, the Reds made three transactions. Starter Johnny Cueto was activated from the DL and RHP Ramon Ramirez and 1B Kevin Barker were recalled from Triple-A Louisville. Laynce Nix was placed on the DL with a bulging disc in his neck. RHP Carlos Fisher was optioned to Class-A Sarasota and LHP Matt Maloney was optioned to Double-A Carolina.
The moves were not extra-harsh demotions for Fisher and Maloney. Because Triple-A Louisville is in the playoffs, any player sent down there would have to wait 10 days before returning. Carolina’s season ends on Sept. 7 and Sarasota’s ends on the Sept. 6. Both guys can come right back after that but will pitch for their teams in the interim.
It will be interesting to see how Cueto does. With the Reds situation, I think he might have been better off resting the rest of the season. I trust the opinion of the medical staff but why risk injuring Cueto’s tired arm (only 136 2/3 innings) when there is no pennant race at stake? Between last season (174 innings), winter ball and the WBC — he’s already had a lot.
Game 2 Lineup:
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