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John McDonald's defense sets him apart in battle for Angels bench job

March 13, 2014|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Veteran John McDonald is batting .462 (six for 13) in his first eight exhibition games with the Angels this spring.
Veteran John McDonald is batting .462 (six for 13) in his first eight exhibition… (Matt York / Associated Press )

TEMPE, Ariz. — John McDonald appears to have a slight edge over Grant Green and Andrew Romine for the Angels’ utility infield spot, but not because he’s batting .462 (six for 13) in his first eight exhibition games.

The 39-year-old veteran has made several outstanding defensive plays at second base and shortstop, and he can also play third, a position the Angels might need coverage at if they decide to pull David Freese in the late innings of close games, as the St. Louis Cardinals often did last season.

“He’s a magician with his hands,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of McDonald. “You always knew what he could do with his field sense. Now that you have him in the clubhouse and the dugout and in meetings, this guy has a special understanding of infield play. He’s fun to be around.”

McDonald, who has played for seven different teams in 13 years, has been a reserve for virtually all of his 13-year big league career. Had he hit better than .235, his  career average, and played on a regular basis, many think he would have won several Gold Glove awards.

“You can look at Omar Vizquel, you can look at David Eckstein,” Scioscia said, when asked who McDonald reminds him of. “The big thing with John McDonald now, the separator, is his head.

“He has an innate sense of playing this game. It’s why he’s been able to keep going, to still play at a major league level, even as a player’s skills start to fade.”


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