LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Kyle McPherson is trying to become the Pirates' fifth starter. He didn't help his case by giving up eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Braves at Champion Stadium. He gave up 10 hits, including three doubles and a homer.
"He was trying to follow a game plan and that was problematic," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Command was up early. The execution part of the arsenal was really inconsistent. That's really kind of what went sideways on him, the execution part of everything."
Hurdle indicated that performance at this point of the spring weighs more heavily because the start of the regular season is a week-and-a-half away.
"You'd like to think that," he said. "You have to look at everything. That's a quality lineup over there. So it is what it is. It is late. We're trying to make decisions. And the one thing he did do, he did not back down. He kept firing and kept battling, which we expect all our men to do. At the same time, we've got to find ways to get outs and to execute with more consistency, especially as we're closing in on things."
McPherson, the Pirates' seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com, remained upbeat after the 18-9 loss.
"I just went out there and tried to establish the fastball early," he said. "I just wound up giving up some of those ground balls you wish could be hit toward position players. But then again, that's just how the game is and you have to continue to go after the next hitter and battle on, pitch after pitch."
Six of the first seven Braves hitters reached on hits and pitching coach Ray Searage made an early trip to the mound.
"He just came out there and told me to slow the game down a little bit, continue to execute pitches," McPherson said. "Keep a narrow focus on the task at hand. You just have to continue to pound the zone, mix up your pitches and stay aggressive. That's what I think I did. Right, wrong or indifferent you're going to give up ground-ball hits. Then again, you're going to go out there and get the best plays made. So you've just got to take them as they come and keep moving forward."
The 25-year-old McPherson is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA this spring. His primary competition for the rotation is Jeff Locke, who is 2-1, 3.12.
Pirates acquire McDonald from D-Backs
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Pirates have acquired infielder John McDonald from the D-backs for a player to be named later or cash considerations, general manager Neal Huntington announced Wednesday.
The move comes two days after Chase d'Arnaud, who was expected to make the team as a backup shortstop, had surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his left thumb. To make room for McDonald on the 40-man roster, d'Arnaud was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
The 38-year-old McDonald played 70 games for Arizona last season at shortstop, second base and third base, and had a .996 fielding percentage, making only one error in 469 chances. He hit .249 with six home runs and 22 RBIs.
"He's obviously a very accomplished defensive player. Veteran presence. Quality guy on and off the field that provides us with some depth and stability," Huntington said. "At a spot where we all of a sudden didn't have a lot of depth and stability.
"First and foremost, we liked the defense. We liked the player a lot. Secondly, he comes with some experience. He's been through the battles of a Major League season and we expect he's going to give us some versatility off the bench and we can rest [starting shortstop] Clint Barmes when appropriate. He provides us some organizational depth at a position where there's not a lot of industry depth."
McDonald will make $1.5 million this year and can be a free agent at the end of the season.
d'Arnaud has thumb surgery, placed on 60-day DL
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared on track to make the Pirates' Opening Day roster, had surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his left thumb on Monday at the Cleveland Clinic. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
"I kind of knew when I went [to the clinic] that I was going to have the surgery. It really [stinks]. I worked hard this offseason, so the timing of this is really annoying," d'Arnaud told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review.
d'Arnaud suffered the injury during a baserunning drill last Saturday. At first, it was believed he wasn't seriously injured. However, an MRI later revealed the tear. He'll be re-evaluated on April 1.
General manager Neal Huntington said losing d'Arnaud helped trigger Wednesday's trade that brought infielder John McDonald from Arizona.
"Jordy Mercer has done everything we could have asked him to do here in Spring Training, and now he'll shift the competition focus to make the club as an extra guy, corner utility guy," Huntington said of the player on the 40-man roster who was expected to fill d'Arnaud's role. "Yeah, without the injury to Chase we're probably not as motivated to make this type of move. But with the injury to Chase, and as shallow as the shortstop position is in the industry and for us at the upper levels of the organization -- we have some young guys we're excited about in the future -- but shortstop is a position where you have to take care of the baseball."
The 26-year-old d'Arnaud made his Major League debut in 2011 and was a September callup last season. In seven Grapefruit League games this spring, he was hitting .214.
• First baseman Jared Lakind, a career .163 hitter in three seasons with the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League Pirates and short season Class A State College Spikes, is being converted to a pitcher. In addition, the following players have been released from Minor League camp: Alexey Lukashevich, Porfirio Lopez, Michael Colla, Philippe Valiquette, Martires Cadet and Wilson Lee.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.