James McDonald had a setback, will see Dr. James Andrews

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It was looking more and more like the Pirates would shift James McDonald from the rotation to the bullpen once he returned from the disabled list, but now it might be a moot point.

McDonald continues to experience shoulder soreness and Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the right-hander will be examined by Dr. James Andrews next week. In other words: Uh oh.

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. Pittsburgh has enough rotation depth that sending Gerrit Cole back to the minors is being talked about, so at this point McDonald is sort of a forgotten man.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.