McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

811076.jpg

McDonald moves to other side of Rivalry

BOSTON -- As usual, Darnell McDonald was at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. It just wasn't in his usual seat to the left of David Ortiz.
Instead, McDonald got ready for Friday night's game in the locker between that of Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

The former Red Sox outfielder was designated for assignment last weekend, and was claimed by the Yankees earlier this week. He arrived at Fenway Park after sitting home all week, waiting for a call from another team.

His agent called him on Wednesday, and a conversation with Brian Cashman soon followed, in which the Yankees' general manager told him to stay in Boston until the rest of his new team came to town for this weekend's four-game series.

McDonald, who was hitting .214 with two homers and nine RBI in 38 games this season, realizes that the transaction is just part of the game, but also admitted that the news of being waived by the Red Sox came "out of the blue."

"Obviously we had some guys that were coming back with the Red Sox, a crowded outfield," said McDonald on Friday afternoon, inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway. "But it's the nature of the business. I've been in this game a long time, and I understand the business side of it. It's always a tough thing to deal with. But, you've just got to keep pressing on."

McDonald, 33, will continue to press on, just now, after 2 12 seasons in Boston, it will be in pinstripes. He admitted that it is a weird feeling to be joining the other side of the historic rivalry, but also acknowledged just how special it is to be able to play for both organizations in his career.

"Ya, I mean, it's strange," said McDonald. "It's just good to be back playing baseball. It's been a tough couple of days just sitting at home, not being able to go to the yard.

"But if you've got to leave and go somewhere, this is not a bad place to come. So, I'm happy to be here and be a part of this organization.

"It's a great group of guys over here," McDonald later added. "I'm still playing the same game. So that makes it easier, making that switch. It's a great clubhouse over here. They welcome you over here. And as you can see, I cut my hair off, and starting a new chapter."

As usual, the Yankees told McDonald he would have to clean it up. So McDonald won't just be in pinstripes. He'll also no longer be sporting his long dreadlocks, as all of his hair now sits in plastic bags inside his locker, following a clean shave and a fresh buzz cut.

While he'll certainly have a different look, he said he envisions himself playing the same role that he played while in Boston the last two-and-a-half seasons.

"Just come to the field and be ready when your name's called," said McDonald. "Work hard, have fun, all those type of things. For me, I just try to pride myself on being ready."

McDonald wasn't in the Yankees' starting lineup on Friday night against Josh Beckett. But Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that he will get some at-bats against lefties in this four-game set.

"He'll play some outfield for us against some of the lefties," said Girardi. "We can move some people around and it gives us a few more options, on maybe who we DH sometimes. Especially in a weekend like this."

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.