McDonald ready for first exhibition action

McDonald ready for first exhibition action

MESA, Ariz. -- After battling shoulder issues last season, James McDonald is very eager to take the mound on Friday.

McDonald, limited to six games with the Pirates because of injuries in 2013, will follow Chris Rusin on Friday when the Cubs face the Angels in Tempe.

"[I'm looking forward to] looking at another guy in another jersey," McDonald said about being in a game rather than practice. "I'm trying to stay focused and take the things I've been working on in the bullpen, make it translate into the game. That's my biggest focus."

McDonald was disappointed in last season and spent the winter at Pro Advantage Training in Gilbert, Ariz., where the emphasis was on building up strength in his shoulder.

Right now, he's healthy -- and he knocked on the wooden support of his locker cubicle for emphasis.

"I'm taking little steps to become a better pitcher," McDonald said. "Once I get on the field, get flowing pretty good, I just want to go out there and pitch."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.