McDonald labors in start but finds the positive

McDonald labors in start but finds the positive

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Last year was a struggle for James McDonald, who admits there were times when he felt he'd given up in games. On Wednesday night, the Cubs right-hander got the competitive juices going again.

The numbers weren't pretty, but McDonald was pleased with his start against the Mariners. He threw 64 pitches -- 26 for strikes -- over 2 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on two hits and five walks.

"I competed, and that's all I can say," McDonald said. "I took it out there and made pitches when I had to. It could've been a lot worse than it was. I battled, kept my guys in the game, and gave it 100 percent. Sometimes they go bad, sometimes they go good.

"This is a process," he said. "I was working on some things. Be patient with myself and don't get too frustrated, because when you get frustrated on the mound, you start thinking crazy and not focusing on what you need to do."

McDonald got into trouble in the second when the Mariners loaded the bases with one out but escaped when he got Kyle Seager to hit into a double play that shortstop Javier Baez started from his knees.

"In all, I would take this and say, 'That's the guy I remember, how to compete,' " McDonald said. "When I got in trouble, I always competed. There were times last year when I felt I'd almost given up. I felt like now, I felt like I'm competing. That's all I can ask of myself is go out there 100 percent and compete."

McDonald battled shoulder problems last season while with the Pirates, and says he's healthy now. He's also working on a two-seam fastball that will help him in ground-ball situations. He got another double play using that pitch in the third inning.

"If I can get that pitch down, it'll be a big pitch for me and I think I'm going to take off," McDonald said.

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.