McDonald Near Ready For Prime Time—Again

Albuquerque right-handed starter James McDonald has been named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for games beginning on June 8 and continuing through June 14 thanks to a pair of outings in which he fanned a total of 23 batters.

On June 8 against Oklahoma City, McDonald allowed just one run on four hits in seven strong innings while walking two and striking out 10. Then on June 14 in Round Rock. In seven shutout innings, the right-hander allowed just two hits while walking one and striking out a franchise-record 13.

Over the two outings, McDonald has constructed a streak of 13 straight innings in which he has not allowed a run while holding opposing batters to a .125 (6-for-48) batting average.

He is the third Isotope to earn League recognition this season, joining Eric Milton, who was named Pitcher of the Week from April 20-26 and Mitch Jones, who claimed PCL Batter of the Week accolades for May 18-24

Using a mix of fastballs, curveballs and changeups, the 24-year-old right-hander consistently got ahead of hitters and made the most of a filthy repertoire. He gave up two hits, walked one and didn't allow a runner to get past second base.

And as each successive zero appeared on the scoreboard, McDonald stayed even-keeled.

"You just keep focused and keep making your pitches," he told "You don't get lackadaisical with your pitches. You keep in the same mind-frame."

Selected by Los Angeles in the 11th round of the 2002 Draft, McDonald was called-up when rosters expanded last September. He did not allow a run in four Major League appearances, allowing five hits over six shutout innings.

This season, McDonald was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 games, including four starts, but his high walk total -- 16 free over 18.2 innings -- earned him a flight to Albuquerque.

He got off to a slow start in the Pacific Coast League, issuing 11 walks and not making it past the fifth inning in his first three game but got back on track in a big way.

"When I got sent down, I kept doing the same things and walking guys," he said. "I had to realize that and refocus and tell myself to get back to where I was before."

Roster Moves
With an off-day Monday, the Dodgers readjusted their bench, recalling catcher AJ Ellis from Albuquerque while sending down infielder Blake DeWitt and outfielder Jamie Hoffman. Another call-up will be made, but no indication has been given as to whom it might be.

DeWitt has had only three plate appearances since being recalled from Albuquerque and Hoffmann only eight in June. The club realizes that both young players would benefit from playing regularly.

Speculation as to who will get the call centers mainly on outfielders Jason Repko and Mitch Jones.

Jones leads the Pacific Coast League with 21 home runs. Repko recently broke a long slump with a pair of home runs and three runs batted in against Memphis.

Jones, 31, has 221 career home runs but has never played a game in the Major Leagues. He was the hottest hitter the first 10 days of the spring training schedule, knocking in eight runs and spraying extra-base hits all over the park before cooling down and eventually dropping out of the starting lineup when Manny Ramirez finally signed.

This season with AAA Albuquerque, Jones has 21 homers in 55 games, a .351 on-base percentage and .693 slugging percentage. Last week, he homered in each game of a four-game series in Oklahoma City. Jones has struck out 49 times this year -- 23 percent of his plate appearances -- which is actually a slight improvement on his career rate.

Joshua Hits the Ground Running
Former Dodgers' outfielder Von Joshua was promoted from AAA Iowa to become the Cubs hitting coach and and spent part of his first day reviewing video of some of the Cubs' hitters now under his watch.

Joshua replacing Gerald Perry, who was let go Sunday because of the offensive struggles. The Cubs rank in the bottom of the National League in nearly every offensive category, collectively batting .246. None of the players were hitting .300, including Alfonso Soriano, who was hitting .229, and Milton Bradley, who was batting .227.

Joshua was in his fourth year as the Triple-A hitting coach, will be in uniform Tuesday for the opener of the Cubs' Interleague series against the White Sox.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," Joshua said.

Joshua invented the "fuzz machine," which is basically a pitching machine that Joshua sets up close to the hitters. The machine fires balls at hitters in the upper 80s, but because the batter is so close, it seems as if they're coming much faster.

The device helps hitters shorten their swing. It's not for everyone, Joshua said, but Aaron Miles tried it during his rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa, and liked it. Dick Allen introduced the drill to Joshua when they were together in Los Angeles.

Langer Top Nevada Sportscaster
Las Vegas 51s broadcaster Russ Langer has been named the 2008 Nevada Sportscaster of the Year. It marks the second straight year and the fourth time in the last six years that he has received this award in the state of Nevada (2003, 2005, 2007, 2008).

Dodger Blue Notes-- Pedro Martinez is working out six days a week and still hopes to join a contending club after the All-Star break. He is reportedly throwing 94. ...Former Dodgers outfielder Gary Sheffield will play through his aching knee with the Mets when it was found that he doesn't need an MRI. ...Suspended slugger Manny Ramirez has dropped to sixth among NL outfielders in latest fan voting for starting spots in the All-Star game.?