According to those in attendance at today’s Cubs/A’s tilt in Phoenix, rotation hopeful James McDonald left his start after just two pitches, the second of which sailed over the catcher’s head.
We’ll wait to see what the issue is before drawing any hard conclusions, but it certainly doesn’t sound good. McDonald was hoping to win the 5th starter job temporarily vacated by Jake Arrieta, who should be back in mid-April. If McDonald’s injury is serious enough to take him out of the equation, the Cubs do have a few other options, including Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin, and Tsuyoshi Wada.
Setting that aside, a serious injury would suck for McDonald and the Cubs. The team gave him a big league deal worth $1 million after he was non-tendered by the Pirates. McDonald dealt with shoulder issues last year, but was highly effective in the first half of 2012. He could have emerged as a surprise arm with some upside, or maybe shifted to the bullpen (he does have good stuff). Maybe that will still happen. We’ll see what’s up with the injury first.
(In case you’re wondering, the non-guaranteed nature of McDonald’s contract likely does not allow the Cubs to let him go for merely termination pay if he’s injured. Typically, these kinds of non-guaranteed, arbitration-level contracts allow a team to drop a player only for performance reasons, and, if he’s hurt, it can’t be performance-related. We’ll see if anything about McDonald’s contract is different or special, but I’m already getting way ahead of myself. Let’s just hope he’s fine.)
UPDATE: Maybe it’s not serious, but this is not where you wanted the injury to be:
Preliminary report from Cubs: James McDonald left the game with right shoulder soreness.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) March 17, 2014