Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Ex-Yankee is a dandy
Goldeyes turn to McDonald as they push for playoff spot
It is a long, long way from Yankee Stadium to Canwest Park. And it is not, suffice to say, the preferred direction of travel for a professional baseball player.
But it is the journey one-time Yankee Donzell McDonald completed Monday, arriving at the downtown ballpark just in time to take batting practice with his newest teammates, the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
The trip from the House that Ruth Built to the House that Sam Built took McDonald nine years to complete, as the Long Beach, Calif., native checked in yesterday with what history has recorded is his 16th different team in a 16-year professional baseball career.
The Goldeyes are less interested, however, in McDonald's fleeting stint with the Yankees than his minor-league numbers as a lifetime .284 hitter, most of it coming at the Triple-A level.
Having just hit .301 with 12 homers and 65 RBI in 105 games this season in the Triple-A Mexican League, the Fish are hoping McDonald is the offensive spark that will make the difference in a playoff race over the next two weeks that looks like it will be razor-thin all the way to the wire.
McDonald served just that purpose for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks last season, joining that club late in the year and hitting .327 through 16 games as Fargo went on to win the Northern League championship.
"I'm expecting him to come in and add a little punch at the top of the order," Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said Monday. "That's something he's done his entire career. He did that last year with Fargo... provided them with a little extra punch down the stretch.
"We're hoping we can get a little of that ourselves."
McDonald started at second base last night and took a few innings to settle in. He struck out on the first three pitches he saw and committed an error in the second inning. But hitting in the second spot, he finished the night 1-4, with a walk, a homer and two runs scored.
So what the Goldeyes get -- or stand to get -- from signing McDonald is clear. But what does a man with big-league experience -- albeit only five games for the Yankees in 2001 and another 10 for the Kansas City Royals in 2002 -- get out of this assignment at the ripe old age of 35?
Have bat, will travel.
"I'm a journeyman," says the 5-foot-11, 195-pound utility man. "And being a journeyman, you have to learn to adapt. I don't have a home -- I will call Winnipeg my home while I am here."
And Canada is a pleasant homecoming of sorts for McDonald, who recorded his first major-league hit with the New York Yankees during a 2001 game at the Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The starting pitcher for the Yankees that night was Roger Clemens and McDonald fondly recalls The Rocket singling him out in the Yankees dugout after the game.
"We won in 13 innings and the first guy to congratulate me was Roger," McDonald recalls. "He had come out in the seventh, but he was still in his uniform, hadn't showered. And he said, 'Congratulations young man, congratulations.' "
Since then, it's been a whistle-stop tour through the minors, including the past six seasons with three different clubs in the Mexican League.
"I'll accept any invitation to play baseball. That's how I am, I enjoy playing the game. These guys are in a pennant race right now and I know what it's like to be playing for something."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2010 B6