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Pregame: McDonald on 'bad start'; Hurdle discusses McDonald's health

Justin K. Aller

I got to the locker room a little late, but in time to catch the tail end of James McDonald's comments. When I was there, he did not mention any health-related issues. He just called last night a "bad start."

James McDonald

You had, good tempo, moving quickly in Spring Training. Do you feel like you need to slow down, sometimes?

... Had good tempo. Last night just wasn't a good start. They got me. .. There were none of these questions my first start. So I think I could have made those same pitches, left them up in the zone against the Cubs, or Arizona, going to get hit. Make bad pitches, bad start. Think that's the bottom line, really. Make good pitches, everything going to be all right.

Are you aware of velocity drop when you're out there on the mound?

Yes, I mean, I'm throwing it and I can feel it. How many times do you see some pitcher go out there and they don't have their good stuff? You don't have your good (inaudible), they're going to hit it. You just have to battle through it.

Clint Hurdle Pregame

McDonald's Health?

Training staff continues to monitor some stuff. Our strength and conditioning guys also ... Just trying to evaluate this day by day.

Any anticipation of McDonald missing his next start?

The next start that's probably top of my list is Jonathan's right now, tonight. So I'm taking them one at a time. I don't think, at this time, I don't have any information that would lead me in that direction.

Has McDonald been candid with you in the past in terms of his condition?

All of our guys have been pretty candid, but all of them, you know a long time ago I was a player and the first time I had something that hurt me I didn't run to a coach and tell them. I sure wouldn't have run to the manager and tell them. You don't do that. It's not the way you're brought up. It's not the way you play. You know, we're taught to play through things. Figure it out. There gets a point I think where all of us need to get to the point where we know that our 75, or our 80 percent, might not be as good as someone body else's 100 percent. That's what we continue to have conversations about with them; because we want to push them through some things. We don't want them at the first sign of something just doesn't feel little right, that they're out. That they need to miss a start, or they can't play two games. It's a fine line. He's been transparent, candid along the way as we've grown in our relationship. I think he's telling me what he's feeling. Up front with the training staff, as well.

Wandy Rodriguez on schedule to start Friday?

We will have a plan B in place if tomorrow doesn't go good, but he seems to be moving in a good direction to make that start.

Is Pedro overanalyzing? Or is the approach to stay the course and battle through it?

[Recently things have looked better but] last night we seemed to take a step back the other way. He is not overanalyzing. He's continued to work with Jay and also work with some of the players that know him longer than us, whether it be Walker or whether it be McCutchen. We encouraged some of that, as well. He doesn't like it. Nobody likes when he doesn't get out of the box very clean. This is another year where that's happened. It's frustrating for him ... we'll see.

Is it a possibility that there will be games in which Martin starts at third?

Yes, that is a possibility.

Pleased with reports about Liriano's start last night?

Yes, you got a grown major league pitcher pitching in the Florida State League. And, he's in a pretty good place right now. His velocity real firm, his breaking ball pretty good, the changeup, so you pretty much get what you get. But it's good. It's moving forward in fine fashion. He's encouraged, he's optimistic.

Why is Tabata starting tonight?

9 for 21. Pretty good mix if you're going to pick a guy to leverage against ... Tabata has seen him a bunch. His on-base percentage is big. So, for [a] 20-game stretch, get him involved.

Bullpen availability?

... Only Wilson is out.