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05/11/10 8:18 PM ET

McDonald making an impact with bat, arm

Center fielder has done admirable job replacing two outfielders

BOSTON -- Since making his debut with the Red Sox on April 20, Darnell McDonald is one of just three Major Leaguers -- with Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Philadelphia's Jayson Werth -- with at least three home runs and three outfield assists. All three of McDonald's assists -- including two Saturday against the Yankees -- have been while playing center field.

McDonald has appeared in 19 games since being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 20 to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron. Prior to this season, McDonald had appeared in just 12 Major League games in center.

"He's done a pretty good job," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "You lose one center fielder and then potentially your next center fielder. Then you go get someone in Triple-A. And if you're expecting someone to play Gold Glove-caliber, that's probably not realistic. He's thrown tremendous -- the ball is down, he's got a good arm [and] good judgments. There's been a couple of routes [on fly balls] where he could have done better, but he's given us a big lift."

McDonald, the first-round pick of the Orioles in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, is batting .230, with three home runs and 10 RBIs, and he has also carved out a spot for himself in Red Sox lore. In his Boston debut on April 21 against Texas, he hit a game-tying, pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning and followed that with a game-winning single in the ninth, becoming the first player with a walk-off RBI in his Sox debut.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.