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Isotopes Start Year at Oklahoma City

McDonald Hopes To Fashion a Win

Lanky Dodgers farmhand James McDonald — all 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds of him — had a lot of things on his mind when preparing for tonight’s Pacific Coast League opener.

Of little concern was making an unintentional fashion statement.

McDonald will be Albuquerque’s starting pitcher when the Isotopes visit Oklahoma City at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark later today. First pitch of the four-game series is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

What garnered McDonald some unwanted attention during a recent workout at Isotopes Park were his baggy britches.

The right-hander showed up for team photos wearing white uniform pants that came about six inches short of his shoe tops. They were so baggy that they made his shins look like spindly bird legs.

“These? They aren’t even my real pants, man,” he said.

Looking over at teammate J.D. Closser’s shoe-length trousers, he pointed and said, “I’ll wear something like those when I’m in the game. This is all I had for pictures.”

Fashion statements aside, McDonald is one shining reason why this year’s Isotopes are once again expected to be a playoff contender in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Manager Tim Wallach said the pitching staff, one laden with experience and quality depth, is the club’s strength.

“I like this team,” he said. “I think the pitching is very good. I like the offense, too, and I like the team overall, but the pitching is going to be pretty solid.”

Four hurlers, including projected starters McDonald and Scott Elbert, are on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster. Seven pitchers spent part of last season in the big leagues and six logged time in Albuquerque in 2009.

Elbert will start Friday’s game. The fifth starter, former Yankees prospect Josh Towers, will get the ball in Monday’s home opener against New Orleans.

If anything, Wallach said this year’s club will be more about pitching and station-to-station offense. Missing is a proven power hitter, as well as an abundance of team speed.

“We lost some power in our lineup, but our defense should be good,” said starting middle infielder Chin-Lung Hu. “My job is get myself on base and work the count for the batters behind me. I need to see more pitches.”

Exactly where Hu will play is up to Wallach. With the arrival of Ivan DeJesus, the pair will likely flip-flop starting spots at second base and shortstop. The corner infielders will be John Lindsey at first and Russell Mitchell at third.

Mitchell spent last season with Double-A Chattanooga and will share time with Nick Green, a veteran major leaguer with Boston last year.

The outfield has returning vets Xavier Paul and Jamie Hoffman, as well as newcomers Prentice Redman, 272-pound Michael Restovich and former major leaguer Jay Gibbons.

A.J. Ellis and Closser will do the catching.

And then there’s Wallach. In his second year with the Isotopes, he said he’s more comfortable in his role with the Dodger organization — and with becoming a master strategist.

He said the experience he gained last year in Albuquerque allows him to plan five to six batters ahead with his pitching staff and an inning or two with regard to his lineup.

“I found out that I could do it more than anything else,” he said.

As for McDonald, he’ll enter tonight’s opener with his standard form-fitting pants and the same laid-back mentality that his manager brings to the clubhouse every day.

“Hey, we’re all hungry to be in L.A.,” he said. “The only way to get there is by doing the job here. For me, that’s pitching good every time out. That’s my job right now and it starts (today).”


‘Topes today
At Oklahoma City, 6:05 p.m. Radio: KNML-AM (610)
Probable pitchers: Isotopes RH James McDonald vs. RedHawks LH Derek Holland
‘Topes home opener:
Monday vs. New Orleans, 6:35 p.m.


2010 Albuquerque Isotopes roster
No.    Pitchers    B-T    Ht.    Wt.    Age    Last year
53    Luis Ayala    R-R    6-1    195    32    Twins, New Orleans (AAA), Marlins
28    Tim Corcoran    R-R    6-2    205    31    Chattanooga (AA), ABQ
14    Scott Elbert    L-L    6-2    221    24    Chattanooga, ABQ, L.A. Dodgers
33    John Ely    R-R    6-2    200    23    Birmingham (AA)
50    Brent Leach    L-L    6-4    218    27    Chattanooga, L.A. Dodgers, ABQ
45    Josh Lindblom    R-R    6-4    239    22    Chattanooga (AA), ABQ
25    Jon Link    R-R    6-0    207    26    Charlotte (AAA)
51    James McDonald    L-R    6-4    203    25    ABQ, L.A. Dodgers
47    Justin Miller    R-R    6-2    217    32    Giants
36    Juan Perez    L-L    6-0    176    31    Gwinnett (AAA)
46    Travis Schlichting    R-R    6-4    186    25    Chattanooga, L.A. Dodgers, AZL Dodgers, ABQ
4    Josh Towers    R-R    6-1    181    33    Syracuse (AAA), Scranton/WB (AAA), Yankees
No.    Catchers    B-T    Ht.    Wt.    Age    Last year
7    J.D. Closser    S-R    5-10    203    30    Chattanooga (AA), ABQ
44    A.J. Ellis    R-R    6-2    224    28    ABQ, L.A. Dodgers
17    Esteban Lopez (DL)    R-R    6-1    204    25    Great Lakes (A)
No.    Infielders    B-T    Ht.    Wt.    Age    Last year
11    Ivan DeJesus    R-R    5-11    199    22    AZL Dodgers (injured, DNP)
22    Nick Green    R-R    5-11    184    31    Red Sox
15    Chin-lung Hu    R-R    5-11    188    26    ABQ, L.A. Dodgers
54    John Lindsey    R-R    6-2    255    33    New Orleans (AAA)
48    Russell Mitchell    R-R    5-10    209    25    Chattanooga (AA)
2    Justin Sellers (DL)    R-R    5-10    155    24    Chattanooga (AA)
No.    Outfielders    B-T    Ht.    Wt.    Age    Last year
31    Jay Gibbons    L-L    6-0    195    33    Newark (Independent)
34    Jamie Hoffmann    R-R    6-3    235    25    Chattanooga (AA), L.A. Dodgers, ABQ
30    Xavier Paul    L-R    5-9    206    25    ABQ, Dodgers
23    Prentice Redman    R-R    6-2    203    30    Tacoma (AAA)
49    Michael Restovich    R-R    6-4    272    31    Charlotte (AAA)
40-man roster players in italics
Manager: Tim Wallach. Pitching coach: Jim Slaton. Hitting coach: John Moses.
Trainer: Greg Harrel. Strength coach: Stephen Downey. Video coordinator: Dan Pane.


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