MacDonald thrilled to sign with Sox organization, play for 'Dogs in home stateFormer Windjammer, UMaine athletic standout keeps making his pitch
Portland — It certainly has been a hectic few days for Camden native and professional baseball pitcher Mike MacDonald.
The former Camden-Rockport High School and University of Maine athletic standout was, only a few days ago, a member of the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, playing outside the confines of the Major League Baseball umbrella for the first time in his professional career.
Now, the 30-year-old MacDonald is back in the fold, and playing for the organization he grew up cheering for.
The 6-foot-2-inch, right-handed MacDonald had his contract purchased by the Boston Red Sox and has been assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs, the team's Double-AA affiliate.
The 30-year-old MacDonald joined the team in New Hampshire July 5 as his new team was on the road facing the Fisher Cats, one of MacDonald"s former teams.
MacDonald passed his physical examination with the Sea Dogs July 6 and signed his contract that night, officially becoming a member of the 'Dogs.
MacDonald is not officially on the roster as of Saturday night, July 7, but a roster move is expected prior to the team's July 8 game at Trenton, where the Camden native will start on the hill in his first appearance in a Sea Dogs' uniform.
MacDonald will sport jersey number 43.
MacDonald was on the phone with his father, Paul, when he got the call from his agent that he was to become a member of the Red Sox organization.
"I got the call and heard that they were interested in purchasing my contract," MacDonald said. "We got the negotiations set up and then met the team in New Hampshire [Thursday], passed my physical [Friday], signed my contract [Friday] and made it official."
MacDonald sat on the bench for Friday's 4-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The victory ended the Sea Dogs' six-game losing streak and was their first victory this month.
Prior to the team's July 7 game at Trenton, Portland was 35-52 and sixth in the Eastern League, 14.5 games behind first-place Trenton.
MacDonald was not overwhelmed when he was told he would start Sunday's game, roughly 72 hours after his contract was purchased.
"Those types of things happen," he said. "They're looking for guys to come in and they need things right away so I was under the impression they wanted me to start and whenever they were going to give me the ball, I was going to take it, go out there and give them a chance to win."
Not only is MacDonald excited to have his home ballpark in his home state, but he resides in Saco during the offseason, which he now will call home year-round.
"Anytime you can live at home and play and travel to the ballfield, it's definitely nice," he said. "At the same point, it's a good opportunity to get back with an affiliate of [Major League] baseball and have a chance to show my stuff and see what happens."
MacDonald has not only bounced between Double-AA and Triple-AAA affiliates over the past few seasons, but he also has gone back and forth regularly as a starter and a reliever.
He has worked almost exclusively as a starter the past four years, which has not hurt his performance on the mound.
"It's definitely nice to be able to get on a routine and go into that routine [and] know when you're going to pitch and get your mind ready to go each and every outing," he said. "But it's all the same. When you're out there and you're facing the hitters the competitive juices take over and the adrenaline kicks in and you're going after them, it's one-on-one at that point."
According to Chris Cameron, assistant general manager and director of media relations for the Portland Sea Dogs, MacDonald is the first Maine-born player in the 18-year history of the franchise.
"It's a great honor," said MacDonald. "A lot of baseball players have come out of the state of Maine and for me to be able to come back to my home state as the first Maine-born to play for the Sea Dogs, especially being a Red Sox affiliate, it's nice. It's a special thing and I'm happy to do it."
MacDonald likely will make his home debut when the Sea Dogs return to Hadlock Field in Portland on Thursday, July 19, where they will open a four-game set against New Hampshire.
MacDonald pitched at Hadlock Field years ago as a member of the Fisher Cats, but is excited to return and pitch as a member of the home team — and in front of a home crowd.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It'll be nice to have some familiar faces around with family, friends and loved ones, so no complaints about anything. I'm just trying to get settled in and I'm ready to do whatever I've got to do to help the team."
MacDonald gradated from Camden-Rockport High School in 2000 and went on to pitch for the University of Maine, later being selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
MacDonald has spent the majority of his professional baseball career with the Toronto Blue Jays' organization for Single-A Dunedin, Double-AA New Hampshire and Triple-AAA Syracuse and Las Vegas. MacDonald also has played for the LosAngeles Angels' of Anaheim's Triple-AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City, Utah and the San Francisco Giants' Double-AA affiliate in Richmond, Va.
MacDonald was 3-4 this season for the Patriots with a 3.60 earned run average. He started 13 games for Somerset and had 37 strikeouts in 70 innings on the hill.
MacDonald's manager with the Patriots was former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee reliever Sparky Lyle, who, on the team's website, as reported in a story by Patriots' beat writer Ryan Dunleavy of the Courier News, stated: “[Mike's] record is misleading because he came out of the game with the lead most of the time. He’s pitched well. He battles you out there. I like it.”
According to the Patriots' website, MacDonald is the first player signed by a Major League organization from the Patriots this year.
According to the Somerset Patriots website, MacDonald has a Minor League career earned run average of 4.52, with 615 strikeouts and 1,040.2 innings logged in 220 games.
MacDonald was a baseball, basketball and soccer standout for the Windjammers while in high school.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.