Anybody whose been watching the Sox this spring training knows that Darnell McDonald is swinging a hot bat. As of yesterday, McDonald is batting .444 (8-for-18) in nine games, with all but just one of his hits for extra bases.
“I’m not going to lie, it probably is [my best spring],” said McDonald, who leads with Red Sox along with David Ortiz two homers. “I’m feeling pretty good up there. [I’m] just trying to make the best of my opportunities out there and getting some balls to fall for me.”
McDonald’s hot streak can be traced back to the end of last season, where he hit .310 after the All-Star break and .382 in September.
“[I] started hitting a little earlier than I would normally start, and [I’m] just trying to build off the end of last year,” said McDonald. “It’s good to see some of that work paying off this early in Spring Training.”
Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan says this success is coming from McDonald’s ability to stay through the ball and avoid shortening his swing as he has done in the past.
“He looks like he did last year in the second half,” Magadan said. “When he’s short to the ball and he’s got that finish throughout the baseball and he’s got length on a swing … it allows him to, when he doesn’t catch a ball perfectly, he can still get it up in the air and drive it.”
McDonald is currently battling with Cody Ross for the starting position in right field, but with Carl Crawford probably starting the season on the disabled list, it is most likely that McDonald will see a lot of starting time early on in left field. He has proven his consistency for the Sox these past few years and is clearly a presence worth having in the club house. Only time will tell for Darnell McDonald but if he continues to hit like this during the season, expect to see a few more 54 jerseys in the stands at Fenway Park this summer.
A Few Fun Facts About Darnell McDonald
– In 1997, McDonald was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles 26th overall in the first round in the amateur entry draft.
– According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McDonald became the first player to deliver a game-winning hit in his Red Sox debut since 1920, when the RBI became an official stat. He was the first player since Orlando Cabrera (Aug. 1, 2004) to homer in his first Sox at-bat, and first to do so as a pinch hitter since Curtis Pride (Sept. 19, 1997).
– McDonald is a former running back who led his Colorado high school football team to three state championships.
-McDonald comes from an incredibly athletic family. His father, Donzell, played in the Pirates’ organization,his brother, Donzell Jr., made a few appearances in the big leagues for the Yankees and Royals in 2001 and 2002, his uncle Ben played in the NBA, and his other uncle James played in the NFL.
*Thanks to Gordon Edes from ESPNBoston for some of the fun facts