McDonald wild, but satisfied

September 02, 1995|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,Special to The Sun

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Ben McDonald wasn't pretty in his first rehabilitation stint with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings last night, but he was effective.

The right-hander had control problems in his first start in more than a month, walking four Syracuse Chiefs in 3 2/3 innings. The positive news: McDonald, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, gave up only one hit. He got a no-decision in the Wings' 7-2 win.

Syracuse scored two runs during McDonald's 62-pitch appearance. Only one was earned.

"I felt really good physically," McDonald said. "The arm felt sound. I think the tendinitis is gone. Unless I wake up [this] morning with a tendinitis flare-up, I definitely feel like I'll be back in the Orioles' starting rotation."

He struggled in the first inning, falling behind four of the first six hitters he faced. Ten of his first 19 pitches were balls. For the night, he threw 29 balls and 33 strikes.

He averaged in the high 80s on the JUGS gun, which is generally considered to be 3 or 4 mph faster than other radar guns. His fastball topped out at 91 mph.

"I felt stronger with my mechanics as the game went on," McDonald said. "I was rusty at first, but that comes from not facing live hitting in a month and a half.

"I think my velocity increased little by little, but I can win with that

velocity as long as my other pitches are working like they were. It felt like spring training all over again."

Rochester pitching coach Claude Osteen said, "I thought he looked good. His timing was off a little -- he was gliding into his delivery and turning his leg too soon.

"But we worked that out. You expect things like that when a pitcher hasn't been out there in a long time."

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