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).”
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.