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Pirates' James McDonald Likely To Make First Scheduled Start

Pirates pitcher James McDonald, whose status for the beginning of the 2011 baseball season had been in doubt due to an injury to his side, appears ready to make his first scheduled start against the Cardinals in a few days after throwing 69 pitches in a minor-league game yesterday.

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Hurdle said that McDonald will likely be limited to about 85 to 90 pitches on Tuesday, since the righty never reached the 70-pitch threshold in Spring Training. That said, the Pirates would prefer to have McDonald make an abbreviated start than to thrust Jeff Karstens into a spot-start situation.

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"The ball was coming out of his hand real well," general manager Neal Huntington said, when asked about McDonald's outing. "He threw healthy. He had some sharp pitches at times. He had some other pitches that weren't quite as crisp. But yeah, we believe he's ready to go."

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Crisp or no, I'd much rather have McDonald out there than Karstens, and this is a good indication that McDonald's injury is unlikely to be an ongoing issue. That's excellent, because McDonald has a very good chance of being the Pirates' best starting pitcher this year. And sure, you can joke about how that makes him the world's tallest midget, but McDonald was tremendous down the stretch after being acquired from the Dodgers last year.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.