Apr 25, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald (53) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald to visit Dr. James Andrews

There are three words that any pitcher never wants to hear: Dr. James Andrews.

But that may be exactly where Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald is heading.

Apr 25, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald (53) delivers to the plate during the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After running out of options of what to do with the struggling McDonald, the Pirates last resort may be to send J-Mac to the renowned Andrews. Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the right-hander will be examined by the famous orthopedic specialist next week.

Usually when a pitcher is sent to Andrews, Tommy John surgery follows.

J-Mac has struggled in a big way during his rehab starts in an attempt to work his way back to the big club and experienced shoulder soreness as of late. While that’s not the dreaded elbow pain that often leads to Tommy John surgery, it is enough to make you think McDonald could be shelved for some time.

In some ways it is a blessing for the Pirates if he has to be shut down for a lengthy period of time.

It was thought that the Bucs would shift J-Mac into the bullpen, but with the way he has struggled with consistency, it is too risky to add him to what has been a stellar all-around pitching staff.

The Bucs were forced to make a decision on whether to add him to the MLB roster or try and sneak him through waivers so they could assign him to Triple-A and hope he could work out his issues.

This at least buys them some time. The good news is the Pirates don’t need McDonald right now.

With Gerrit Cole potentially being sent to the minors after his stellar start to his MLB career, the Pirates certainly have enough starting pitching depth to get by.

McDonald had an excellent first half for the Pirates last season, but faded badly down the stretch and then posted a 5.76 ERA in six starts before being shut down this year.

You never wish anyone to have to undergo surgery, but if something is wrong, hopefully it will explain why J-Mac has struggled so badly.

If anything, hopefully it gives the Bucs answers as McDonald is simply too talented to pitch as badly as he has in the last calendar year.

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Tags: Dr. James Andrews James McDonald Pittsburgh Pirates

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