Does Darnell McDonald Deserve Roster Spot for Rest of Season?

Does Darnell McDonald Deserve Roster Spot for Rest of Season? Darnell McDonald has taken Boston by storm.

On Tuesday, McDonald went 2-for-2 with a game-tying home run and a game-winning, wall-ball single.

On Wednesday, the new Red Sox center fielder grabbed two hits while walking twice, bashing another home run and throwing a runner out at the plate.

It'd be hard to script it any better than that for a Red Sox debut. He won't be buying any beers in Boston for a good while.

It begs the question of whether McDonald should stick with the Red Sox for the remainder of the year.

Despite being a minor league veteran of 13 seasons, McDonald turned the corner last season when he posted an .888 OPS for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. He also saw time in the big leagues with Cincinnati.

He was off to a scorching start for Triple-A Pawtucket as well, posting a 1.055 OPS before getting the call to the bigs and becoming a hero.

McDonald can cover all three outfield positions, and — as evidenced by the pea he threw home to Jason Varitek — can air his arm out when needed. Having someone with that versatility could be huge for the BoSox. While Jeremy Hermida has extensive major league experience playing right field, he is a poor defender there, according to UZR. No bench player on the Opening Day roster had the ability to play center or right field at an acceptable level.

The obstacle to McDonald sticking with the Red Sox is lack of room on the bench once injuries heal.

While McDonald likely has the inside track on holding onto the backup outfielder gig over Josh Reddick when Jacoby Ellsbury returns at some point next week, there's simply no room for him once Mike Cameron comes back to town.

At that point, the bench is likely to consist of Varitek, Bill Hall, Mike Lowell and Hermida. And all have their uses. Varitek clearly is needed behind the dish while Hall is currently serving as the team's primary infield backup (and boasts the versatility Terry Francona craves). That leaves Lowell and Hermida.

Hermida is off to a strong start as well. As a young slugger — something the Red Sox desperately need — he's probably not going anywhere.

With the struggles of David Ortiz, Lowell takes on added importance as someone who can rake when asked.

One unsavory option to keep McDonald in the majors would be to cut all ties with Big Papi. When Cameron is ready to return, the Red Sox will likely have had plenty of time to evaluate Ortiz and whether he can help Boston the rest of the year.

Everyone certainly hopes Ortiz returns to the mauler of old, but if not, Lowell would likely become the new DH, which could open up a spot for McDonald. On the other hand, if Ortiz starts cranking home runs again, Boston would have to find a new spot for Lowell to integrate McDonald into the roster.

This is all assuming the Red Sox are especially motivated to keep Darnell McDonald a member of the Red Sox for the remainder of the year. Should he be?

Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN's Red Sox Gameday Live or Red Sox Final.

April 21: Should Jason Varitek be Josh Beckett's personal catcher?

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