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Rusin, McDonald see areas to improve after first game


TEMPE, Ariz. -- Both Chris Rusin and James McDonald cruised through their first innings on Friday, but the second innings for each Cubs pitcher gave them something to work on, as the Cubs lost, 15-3, to the Angels.

Rusin started Friday against the Angels, and after a 1-2-3 first, he faced nine batters in the second and served up four runs on five hits.

"I felt good health-wise out there," Rusin said. "The first inning was obviously good. I felt my mechanics were a little off in the second inning. I felt I was pulling off, which caused the ball to be up and not move as much. Those are the balls they hammered. Other than that, I was pleased for the first outing, but obviously not with the runs."

About halfway through Rusin's second inning, Cubs catcher George Kottaras noticed that the lefty was falling off to the side. Rusin said he was able to concentrate on his command and mechanics for the last two batters and just needs to make the adjustment sooner in the future.

McDonald had a rougher second inning. The right-hander also retired all three batters he faced in his first inning, then couldn't get a hitter out in the fourth. He served up a leadoff homer to Chris Iannetta, and the Angels then loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Chicago athletic trainer PJ Mainville and pitching coach Chris Bosio went to the mound to check on McDonald, who stayed in the game and served up a grand slam to to Mike Trout on a 2-0 pitch.

"I was fine," McDonald said. "I threw too many pitches down in the bullpen. I threw a lot of pitches and felt good. I felt a little off, but overall, I'll take the first inning. The first inning was good, solid, I got the ball down. The second inning, I didn't get the ball down. I didn't get ahead of guys like I did in the first inning and that's what happens."

He admitted to feeling a little fatigue, and that his arm wasn't used to the rhythm of the game of throwing, sitting, then throwing again. McDonald was bothered by right shoulder problems last season while with the Pirates, but there were no issues on Friday.

Rusin has been the Cubs' consumate substitute pitcher, filling in after the Trade Deadline the last two seasons. This spring is a little different for the lefty, who knows the players better.

"Going out there and competing is not anything different and nothing new to me," Rusin said. "I just go out there and give it my all and am trying to make the team and we'll see what happens."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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