At this time last year, James McDonald was dominating on the mound, going 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA in the first half of the 2012 campaign. Now, he’s might not even be a part of the Pirates’ future plans.

He was crushed for eight runs on April 15th; the next day, we wondered what was up with J-Mac. His velocity was down, but he claimed he wasn’t injured. However, McDonald was placed on the disabled list on May 7th with “shoulder discomfort” after getting lit up by the Brewers (7 runs, 8 hits, 5 walks in five innings) on April 30th. That could very well be his final appearance as a Pittsburgh Pirate.

David Manel of Bucs Dugout is reporting some comments from general manager Neal Huntington regarding the future of J-Mac. Here’s what NH said:

“As the clock ticks we’ll have to make the determination as to where James McDonald best fits in this group, on this club. Or, does he fit?”

At this point, does J-Mac fit? It sure doesn’t look that way, even though the Pirates are on their 11th starting pitcher of 2013 and could use another arm. Going forward with rookie Brandon Cumpton shows how much confidence the Bucs have in McDonald.

Now, there are rumors that players lost respect for him last August:

Dunlap confirmed that he heard those rumblings directly from a player, rather than just starting speculation.

The club has 10 days to see if they can trade McDonald before his rehab expires. Should they part ways with the 28-year-old right-hander? It seems like there’s a good chance that they will.

UPDATE: In a rehab start on Sunday night, J-Mac allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings. He continued to struggle with his control, throwing 41 balls on 93 pitches and surrendering three walks. When Neal Huntington rhetorically asked if McDonald fit on the Pirates roster, the GM added, “…that’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald and how he goes about it.” J-Mac certainly didn’t show that he’s worthy of a roster spot with this rehab start, and he won’t have many other opportunities to prove it.

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