chicago cubs logoAccording 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:

  • GoCubsGo

    Nah nah nah nah. nah nah nah nah. Hey hey hey. Goooodbyeeee.

    • Fishin Phil

      Well, that’s not very nice.

      P.S. Take Darnell with you.

      • GoCubsGo

        Yea, maybe got a little carried away. I don’t want him to make the team cause I don’t think he is any good.

        • Brocktoon

          Not that if expect the money applied elsewhere, but I’m annoyed this may cost us our 833k savings

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    should have kept Brett Marshall instead investing a 40man roster spot in James McDonald. Not going to call McDonald a bum but he always look hurt to me when he pitched this whole spring

    • willis

      Watching that game Wednesday night was cringe worthy. He just looked completely uncomfortable and seemed to be completely fighting himself.

      They should never have given him a major league deal.

    • Jon


      Filling in for Homer Bailey, who was scratched with a right groin strain, Brett Marshall pitched three innings of two-hit ball and added two RBIs, and Chris Heisey stayed white hot for the Reds in a 16-4 victory over the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.

      • farmerjon

        Uh…do what? Are you going to post a link to all the games today?

        • Jason P

          He posted it because Brett Marshall, the guy the Cubs cut earlier this spring, was the one pitching.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      You are probably right, and that was always the chance that the team was taking that he was 100% healthy (or at least could get that way this year)

  • Wilburthefirst

    Don’t regret the gamble, but he hasn’t had anything all Spring. I’d do this deal and several others every year if you can catch a decent starter every so often.

    However, this totally unknowing fan says based on the results I’ve seen on TV I hope 1) he isn’t seriously hurt, but 2) also hope he doesn’t have a place with the Cubs going forward …

  • johnnyp

    So, if he doesn’t make the team because of injury, they’d still have to pay him? Serious question, What if they made the argument that he’s just not a good pitcher and he wasn’t going to make the team anyway? With money at stake, I’d throw one over the catchers head and grab my throwing arm wincing in pain too, if I performed like him in st.

    • Brocktoon

      Probably not worth the headache (be it grievance or just a pissed off agent)to release an injured guy to save 833k

  • Ballgame17

    So, his $1mil contract isn’t fully paid if he’s cut?? Wait til he comes back, 1 app, peace out. It’s not that I mind McDonald that much, just seems like he’s gonna be squeezed out either way.

  • bobdawg78

    How much of his contract is guaranteed? When is the date it becomes guaranteed? Hopefully he’s not hurt too bad, and we can make a move with him at a later date.

  • Jon

    I have to ask, what is the obsession over his deal being guaranteed or not?

    • ssckelley

      I don’t understand it either, are the Cubs THAT poor?

  • Napercal

    James McDonald is the 2014 version of Scott Baker.

    • Edwin


    • Jon

      5 million vs 1 million which is why I think it would be shitty to try and get out of paying him considering they let Baker treat the Cubs as his health club last season for 5 million.

      • YourResidentJag

        I have to ask, Jon. Did he get full use of the sauna? :)

  • Blackhawks1963

    Justin Grimm, opportunity knocks on your door.

    • Chad

      No, no it really doesn’t. Chris Rusin, Villanueva, and Wada, their door knockers are being utilized.

      • Edwin

        “What knockers!”

        “Thank you doctor.”

        • CubChymyst

          No, it’s pronounced “Fronkensteen.”

          • mjhurdle

            “Whose brain did you give me?”

            “uhhhh, umm….Normal…..Ab Normal”

  • Paddy26

    Can’t see anyone else besides Villanueva winning the job now. The Sun-Times report that he won the job has never been addressed here, was it deemed unreliable?

  • itzscott

    Neil Ramirez was the ONE major league ready player that came over from TX in the Garza trade yet nobody is even acknowledging that he’s been having a solid spring or that he even has a chance to make the Cubs.


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I acknowledge it.

      Also, Justin Grimm has pitched in the big leagues quite a bit.

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  • Diehardthefirst

    Braves of 50s only had 2 decent starters and a slogan of “Spahn, Sain and pray for rain” became popular – Cubs may be heading down same road – ” Wood, Shark and pray for dark” would have worked before lights or night games- need to come up with one

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, that was the 1940′s Braves: Sain was pretty much done by the time the ’50′s rolled around. They had a couple of really good years in that stretch, but otherwise were just a “better than 0.500 but not competitive” team. (Before division play, teams a bit over 0.500 were nowhere near competitive.)

      The 1950′s Braves always had 3 good starters when they were competitive: Spahn, Burdette and another guy (Buhl more often than not but not always him). Moreover, that was 3/4ths of the rotation then.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Actually it was 1948 towards end of season based on sports writer poem and carried over into 50s

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