McDonald gets hot in chilly Chi-Town

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McDonald gets hot in chilly Chi-Town

CHICAGO -- On a bitterly cold night, with temperatures hovering near freezing at U.S. Cellular Field, no one needed to get hotter more than Darnell McDonald.

McDonald came into Friday's game with a batting average of .100, and his playing time had been reduced ever since the acquisition of Marlon Byrd.

But getting into the lineup against lefty John Danks, McDonald made the most of his opportunity. With the bases full in the sixth inning, he laced a three-run double to left. Then, in his final at-bat in the ninth, he added a solo homer, giving him a career-best four RBI.

"It's definitely better than going 0-for,'' said McDonald. "It's a crazy game. You go from feeling so good in spring training and starting the season off to not feeling good up there at the plate. I had two at-bats tonight where I didn't feel good and I just told myself, 'Just simplify things. Just go up there and try to see the ball, hit the ball and just go back to Little League.

"You start thinking about too many things and it's tough to hit that way.''

As an extra outfielder, McDonald has gone from regular, almost daily at-bats in spring training to playing only a couple of times per weeks. It's never an easy adjustment.

"It's tough,''acknowledged McDonald. "But that's my role, so I try to do the best I can to prepare myself for my at-bats. I think the toughest part is you have to sleep on those (unsuccessful) at-bats and wait until your next go-around. But hitting is contagious and guys have been swinging the bats really well and I was able to get in there and get a couple of knocks tonight.''

In the sixth, with three baserunners aboard, McDonald abandoned his approach to take the perfect swing and instead focused on being aggressive.

"I was able to put the barrell on the baseball,'' he said.

Are Celtics better off building through draft or via trade?

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Are Celtics better off building through draft or via trade?

Steve Buckley joins Arbella Early Edition to give his opinion on how the Boston Celtics path to becoming a title contender will come, through the draft of via trades?

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

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Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox rotation is going to take a little while longer.

Rodriguez will make at least one more rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday before the Red Sox re-assess his progress.

There had been some thought that Rodriguez would need only two outings on his rehab assignment. But the decision was made Wednesday to give him at least one more.

Rodriguez had a good outing for Pawtucket Tuesday night, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work.

All three runs came in the first inning, after which he showed improvement. "From the second to the sixth innings,'' said Farrell, "they were probably more crisp, more sharp. Looking for that to continue to advance."

Rodriguez, too, said he felt better than he did the first time out, when he allowed three runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

"I feel more control of the ball,'' he said. "I feel more comfortable throwing the ball in the game. Physically, I feel fine. I just see how everything goes every day like bullpens, running and everything. I just want to get back as fast as I can. But I want to get back 100 percent, I don't want to get back at 70 percent and go out there and don't do like I normally do."

Rodriguez, of course, has missed the first month of the season after tweaking his knee at the beginning of spring training.

"The first start I made in Pawtucket,'' recalled Rodriguez, ''I was thinking too much on my knee. Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much,' but (Tuesday) night it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."

After throwing 84 pitches Tuesday night, the Red Sox want him to get his pitch count over 90 in his next outing.

''I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound," Farrell said.