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Rehabbing McDonald nearing crossroads with Pirates

Rehabbing McDonald nearing crossroads with Pirates

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ANAHEIM -- James McDonald's career with the Pirates isn't necessarily coming to an end. But it is definitely coming to a crossroads.

McDonald's latest rehab start, Friday night for Triple-A Indianapolis, wasn't anymore reassuring than previous outings and Pirates staff will have to decided his immediate future without him being able to have another showcase turn on the mound.

The right-hander went on the disabled list with right shoulder discomfort on May 7. Subsequently, he was sent on rehab assignment on May 27, and the 30-day rehab period is up on June 25.

At that time, the Pirates will have to make a decision on his status, including whether they foresee any role for him on a staff running on all cylinders.

"That's one of the things [general manager Neal Huntington] and I will talk about [Sunday]," manager Clint Hurdle said.

In going six innings against Charlotte, McDonald threw five of 14 curves for strikes and elicited five outs on three pitches or fewer. Hurdle called the outing "inconsistent, not sharp, similar to the one before."

Prior to McDonald's penultimate rehab start last Sunday, Huntington had said, "James has to show us he can repeat his success at the Major League level. As the clock ticks, we'll have to make a determination where he fits on our club -- or does he fit? That question will have to be answered by James McDonald."

A year ago, McDonald was contending for an All-Star berth with a 6-3 record and 2.19 ERA. In a total of 21 starts since, he has an ERA of 6.28.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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