Struggling pitcher James McDonald insists he is healthy and, for now, the Pirates are inclined to believe him.

“I'm fine,” McDonald said Tuesday. “It's just one of those times when my body just doesn't feel too well and I have to battle through it. My body feels a little beat up. Long road trip, coming back here, I've got to get adjusted to the workload I'm putting on myself.”

The right-hander gave up eight runs in 12⁄3 innings Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals. McDonald's fastball sat around 90 mph, continuing a trend that began midway through 2012.

Last year, McDonald's average velocity peaked at 92.9 mph in June. By the end of the season, it was down to 91.8 mph — tailing off as he skidded through a second-half slump.

Even when he's on the mound, McDonald is aware his velocity is down.

“I'm throwing it. I can feel it,” he said. “But you don't have your good stuff every single time. You have to battle through it.”

After the game, manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington were briefed by head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk and pitching coach Ray Searage. After that, McDonald was called into the manager's office.

“Is he 100 percent on top of his game? No,” Hurdle said. “He's not feeling anything that he doesn't think is manageable. It's perplexing to some degree. We'll have the trainers and our strength and conditioning guy continue to monitor some stuff. We'll try to evaluate this day by day.”

Hurdle seemed to rule out the possibility of McDonald skipping a start.

“At this time, I don't have any information to lead me in that direction,” Hurdle said.