PITTSBURGH - We're still not in June, so it's too early to be definitive about anything - good or bad - in this baseball season.
With that disclaimer out of the way, it's OK to be excited about what James McDonald has done so far for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
McDonald came on strong last year and has built on that progress this year.
His work in Monday afternoon's start against the Cincinnati Reds was especially impressive. When he got into jams, he found a way out with no damage. In other innings, he breezed against a good offensive team.
McDonald has a live arm, a good assortment of pitches and a growing awareness of how to use that arsenal.
In the past he tended to dwell on failure, which would disrupt his entire game.
It was a problem another Pirates right-hander of the past had. Doug Drabek would linger on things that went wrong rather than concentrating on working out of the trouble.
Pitching coach Ray Miller got Drabek to channel his energy and focus in the right direction, and he became one of the National League's most successful pitchers.
This isn't to say that McDonald will be become the 20-game winner and Cy Young Award winner that Drabek was, but it appears as though he's making genuine progress.
On a team that has to develop its own stars, McDonald's story is exactly the kind the Pirates need.
It's probably not a big deal that receiver Mike Wallace is skipping the Pittsburgh Steelers' voluntary Organized Team Activities.
Wallace hasn't signed the team's $2.7 million contract tender, so he can't participate.
He's discovered just how restricted some NFL free agency can be. His choices are basically to play for the Steelers' $2.7 million, or stay home. The latter pays $2.7 million less.
So Wallace will eventually be there, at least for one more season.
It would be nice if he was getting acquainted with the new offense, though.
One more round
My pick is the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final, fully acknowledging that few are probably paying any attention to non-Penguins hockey on these hot and steamy days.
But if the Kings don't claim the franchise's first championship, it would be OK if New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur won another at age 40.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com.