FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a disappointing 2011 season, Darnell McDonald is fighting for a job. Fortunately for him, he's having his best spring ever.
"I'm not going to lie -- it probably is (my best spring)," said McDonald after belting a double and a two-run homer in the Red Sox' 9-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday. "I'm feeling pretty goodup there. I'm just trying to make the best of my opportunities out there and I'm getting some balls to fall for me."
McDonald is hitting a crisp .500 (8-for-16). Seven of his eight hits have been for extra bases with five doubles and two homers.
He attributes his hot hitting to "a lot of hard work this off-season. I started hitting a little earlier than I would normally start and I'm really just trying to build off the end of last year. I was feeling pretty good (at the end of the year) and it's good to see some of that work paying off in spring training."
The opportunity was there for McDonald to grab more playing time last season, but he struggled badly until September when something clicked and he hit .382 in 18 games.
"It was really just working with (hitting instructor Dave Magadan)," explained McDonald of the late-season turnaround. "Early BP, working off the tee and working on my swing. The biggest thing is Mags giving us a good game plan."
After a disappointing season that saw him hit .236, McDonald knew the importance of getting off on the right foot this spring.
"I'm competing for a job," he said, "so that's very important. We have a new manager and obviously you want to show the new manager what you can do. They told me from Day 1 that I was competing for a job here and I'm just trying to make the best of my opportunites. That's what I've been doing for my whole career. That's nothing new.
"It's been going well this spring and I want to keep it going."
The ball has been jumping off McDonald's bat this spring, a result of an adjustment he's made to "stay through the ball" better.
"It's something that Mags has been working with me on," he said.
"We have a few drills that we do every day. It's really helped me. I give a lot of credit to him. It's good as a player to do the work and then see the (positive) results in a game."