Like sitting with anticipation for the phone to ring in the bullpen, the waiting game is often times the hardest. And whether starting or relieving, Camden native Mike MacDonald is waiting patiently for his phone to ring so he can continue his professional baseball career.

MacDonald, a 2000 graduate of then Camden-Rockport High School, has been a pro player for nine years and currently is a free agent.

The 31-year-old Saco resident went on to pitch for the University of Maine at Orono after high school and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the 2004 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.

Since then, MacDonald has seen time at the Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A levels of Major League Baseball, in addition to a brief stint in the independent Atlantic League early last season.

But at the moment, the 6-1, 215-pound righthander is waiting for his next opportunity.

"You have no control over that," he said. "It's kind of like any job hunt. You wait for the phone to ring and you get an interview and you go after it that way and see what happens."

Playing for the Somerset Patriots early last year, MacDonald's contract was purchased by the Boston Red Sox in July and he was assigned to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. MacDonald is the first and only Maine-born player to play for the Sea Dogs.

MacDonald's best performance with Portland came in his first home start at Hadlock Field on July 17, where he tossed seven shutout innings in a 7-0 win over Reading, the Philadelphia Phillies' Double-A affiliate.

MacDonald tossed 50.2 innings and was 3-2 for Portland, allowing 27 runs (26 earned) on 53 hits and 12 walks, with 34 strikeouts. MacDonald surrendered only two home runs through 10 appearances, nine of which were starts.

At the end of the season for the Sea Dogs, MacDonald was called up to make a spot start for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox.

MacDonald went a mere four innings in the game, but allowed only two runs, prompting Pawtucket to keep him on the roster for the remainder of the season.

"They kept me up there as kind of a backup in case something happened in the playoffs. So I actually traveled with them through their whole playoff run," MacDonald said.

It was MacDonald's only appearance for the PawSox, which went on to win the Governor's Cup and lost in the Triple-A National Championship game 10-3 to the Reno Aces.

MacDonald was back in the Midcoast over the recent weekend, hosting a pitching clinic for youngsters April 7 at Lincolnville Central School.

Click to view photos from the clinic.

When his baseball playing days are over, the former Windjammer did not rule out the possibility of coaching at some level.

"I definitely will always want to pass on the information that's made baseball part of my life," he said. "It's been such a big part of my life for so many years [and] you can't shut that off. When the time comes, I'm sure I'll want to stay involved."

During MacDonald's time with the Sea Dogs, the Camden native was a teammate of Jackie Bradley Jr., who at only 22 years old, made the leap to the major leagues this season with the Boston Red Sox.

"He's a class act," said MacDonald of Bradley Jr. "He's got all the talent in the world, but he's not one of those guys that talks about it. He goes out, does his job, does what he needs to do to get better and puts in a hard days work. And it shows on the baseball field. It showed in spring training with what he put together. His first full season was last year and this year he made a big league ball club out of spring training because he produced and put in the time and put in the work."

Bradley Jr. led off the Sea Dogs' 7-0 win over Reading July 17 with a home run, providing MacDonald with run support in his home debut.

It was not the last time he saw Bradley Jr. go deep.

"We were in New Hampshire [later in the season] and [the Fisher Cats' park] it's about 380 feet to left-center [field] and he put one over the fence," MacDonald said of Bradley Jr. "And that's opposite field as a lefty, so it was pretty impressive to watch him roam the outfield. He's a five-tool player and he's definitely got a bright future."

MacDonald is not yet mulling retirement. However, the 31-year-old, who got married in October, sees his life eventually slowing down and "enjoying the other parts of life" in his later years, such as "being at home and not having to travel as much."

"If things aren't going to happen and the real world does catch up to you, then you go from there," he said. "You always have that itch to want to play [and] if the opportunity came, I probably wouldn't pass it up. But at the same time there's other things you can look forward to."

In nine minor league seasons, MacDonald has thrown 1,165.1 innings, sports a 64-66 record and a 4.47 earned run average. In 244 games, he has 194 starts, five complete games, three shutouts, five saves, surrendered 1,314 hits, allowed 579 earned runs, allowed 83 homers, walked 324 and struck out 692.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.