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McDonald: X-rays OK, unlike ERA Foot is sore, but not fractured


Ben McDonald's right foot didn't suffer as much damage as his ERA, so he doesn't expect to miss his next start.

He was hit by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Alomar in the first inning of Thursday night's 10-8 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Although it caused some pain, the injury wasn't severe enough to knock McDonald out of the game.

The Blue Jays took care of that, forcing his dismissal after the fourth inning by hitting four home runs. Yesterday the home runs were more of an irritation for McDonald than his sore foot. The six runs he allowed increased his ERA to 5.64.

Precautionary X-rays didn't reveal a fracture. McDonald said he thought a fracture was possible because of an old injury. "I broke it once playing basketball in high school," he said. "It's such a small bone there [outside base of the foot].

"It throbbed all night, but it's a lot better today -- it feels better with shoes on because there's some padding.

"I'll know a lot more [today] when I throw on the side, but I don't see me missing a start. At this point I don't think that's a possibility."

What McDonald is hoping is that he misses a few more bats in his next start, scheduled for Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Boston Red Sox. Last year McDonald led the Orioles, and was among the American League leaders, in home runs allowed with 32.

He didn't give up a homer in his first four starts this year, but has allowed six in his past two.

He said the pain in his foot had nothing to do with his ineffectiveness Thursday.

"I don't want to use that as any excuse," he said. "I could feel it [pain], but I don't think that had anything to do with it.

"I know I'm going to give up some home runs," said McDonald. "I throw a lot of high fastballs, and when you do that, you're going to give up some home runs. But that's how I learned how to pitch, that's my game.

"It does get to be a little aggravating. But what really hurt me was the walk to [John] Olerud. If I hold them to solo shots, I can win that game [Thursday]."

But McDonald walked Olerud to lead off the second inning, before Darnell Coles connected for his first homer of the year. McDonald gave up a sharp infield hit to Paul Molitor before Joe Carter's two-run blast in the third.

McDonald dismissed any idea that home runs were the result of a lack of aggression on his part.

"I gave up 32 homers last year and I led the team in hit batters [nine], and I probably led in knockdown pitches, too, so I don't know that that's the answer," he said. "I think the answer is better quality pitches."

Manager Johnny Oates agreed with that assessment. "I looked at videotapes of all four home runs -- and none of those pitches was where it was supposed to be," said Oates.

"That's the difference between having control and having command. Only one of those pitches was out of the strike zone, but none of them was a good pitch.

"Hitters don't hit too many good pitches," said Oates. "But when you throw the ball in their wheelhouse, you're going to get hurt."

At times like these, the subject of concentration always seems to creep into the conversation. But if that's a problem, Oates, for one, doesn't think it should last very long.

"If you throw a bad pitch and it's hit for a home run, I would think that would get you concentrating," said Oates, who seems perplexed by McDonald's inconsistency.

"I don't know what it is," said McDonald. "It seemed like I threw a home run pitch, then I'd blow away the next guy."

That is exactly what happened in the second inning Thursday. After Coles' home run, Ed Sprague struck out. Then Pat Borders connected and McDonald struck out Luis Sojo and Devon White.

But there were no strikeouts after Carter's shot in the third -- and only a few more pitches after Sprague became the fourth Blue Jay to go deep, in the fourth inning.

For McDonald, it was out of the game and back to the drawing board. He'll work on the sidelines with pitching coach Dick Bosman again today.

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