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MLB: McDonald offers strong right-handed bat

Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:21 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP)
Cubs outfielder Darnell McDonald rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday in Glendale, Ariz.

MESA, Ariz. – While many Cubs might not know who Ralph Waldo Emerson was, Cubs outfielder Darnell McDonald features a quote from the noted Transcendentalist in his Twitter biography:

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

McDonald’s path has been long and winding, from Orioles first-round draft pick in 1997 to minor league invitee at Cubs camp this spring. But McDonald (@MacDime54) has a shot at winning a spot on the bench if the Cubs keep five outfielders.

The 34-year-old veteran, who had two hits Thursday in a 5-3 victory over the A’s, has shown he can handle left-handers – a .342 career on-base percentage and .436 slugging percentage vs. lefties.

Cubs President Theo Epstein knows McDonald well from their years together with the Red Sox, where McDonald became a fan favorite. Manager Dale Sveum cited McDonald’s “professionalism” as one of his attributes.

McDonald said he likes to use inspirational quotes on Twitter, from Emerson to Michael Jordan.

“You can learn stuff from a lot of people,” McDonald said. “That’s one of the things Twitter is good for. All I do is try to pass along the information. All it is really is having fun and interacting with your fans.”

Injury update: Matt Garza (strained side muscle) began throwing again Thursday. Starlin Castro (left hamstring tightness) took swings in the batting cage and participated in the bunting tournament, where he advanced to the Sweet 16. And Ian Stewart (left quad strain) is a week away from swinging a bat.

All three said they were feeling much better. It remains to be seen if Garza will be ready for the regular season, or if Stewart will be able to get enough Cactus League at-bats to avoid being released for a $500,000 termination fee.

Garza threw from 60 feet for about 15 minutes, but said he wouldn’t rush his rehab to be on the opening roster.

“It’s obviously a huge deal,” he replied. “But pitching April 1 and pitching April 15, yeah it’s three or four games, but if I pitch April 1st, I might re-injure it in June and be out. But if I get those other 2 weeks in and take my time, maybe I’m pitching April 15th through October or maybe November.”

Castro said he expected to miss only 1 or 2 days.

Stewart’s chances of making the Cubs hinge on whether he can perform in his brief window of opportunity upon returning in 2 weeks or so.

“It doesn’t help [him make the team],” Sveum said. “If he gets on the field too late in spring training, it’s going to be very difficult to get enough at-bats to evaluate.”

 

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