Before the White Sox opened a three-game series at Camden Yards on Tuesday, MacDougal was designated for assignment, meaning the team has 10 days to trade, waive or release him. Rookie Jack Egbert was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take his place on the roster.
MacDougal, 32, had teased the White Sox with an impressive Spring Training in which he was 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 13 outings. But in five relief appearances this season, MacDougal walked seven in 4 1/3 innings and pitched to a 12.46 ERA.
"It was hard for me to use him," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I don't know what kind of role he had. ... He couldn't make it."
Nothing pitching coach Don Cooper did seemed to get MacDougal back on track. The 94-mph fastball and effective slider that MacDougal has flashed in the past weren't evident after he made the team as a non-roster player out of Spring Training.
"We ran out of help," Guillen said. "We couldn't think of any more [ideas]."
General manager Ken Williams delivered the news to MacDougal before the White Sox departed St. Petersburg for Baltimore. Guillen isn't sure if MacDougal would accept an assignment to Charlotte if he goes unclaimed on waivers, or if the Sox can rely on MacDougal's performance at Triple-A to be a realistic gauge of his abilities.
"If he plays good at Triple-A, we don't know if we can trust him. ... He's got unbelievable stuff. He just doesn't throw strikes," Guillen said.
Egbert, 25, was converted to a reliever after going 4-12 with a 4.65 ERA in 24 games, including 22 starts, for Charlotte last year. He entered 2008 ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in the White Sox organization after posting a 12-8 record, 3.06 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 28 starts at Double-A Birmingham in 2007.
The right-hander was used exclusively in relief at Charlotte this season for the first time in his career, and was 1-0 with a 6.43 ERA in five outings. He was one of the most effective White Sox relievers in Cactus League play, going 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in nine games, including one start.
"Obviously, like we all knew, this was an important spring for me," Egbert said. "Being able to go out and pitch well put me in position if something happened. I guess they have the confidence in me, which is definitely rewarding."
Being used frequently in Spring Training hastened Egbert's ability to adapt to his new role.
"At first, I was kind of a little worried how I would handle it," he said. "But I got a lot of opportunities in Spring Training. A few times, I had to get going in a hurry, come in with guys on base. I think I've been able to handle it pretty well so far."
Guillen wasn't sure what role Egbert would fill in the bullpen, but said his Major League debut would probably come sooner rather than later.
"He's here for a reason," Guillen said of Egbert, who learned of the promotion Sunday night in Charlotte.
Because he was recalled in Baltimore, Egbert will have a contingent of friends and family from his home in Rutherford, N.J., rooting him on at Camden Yards. His parents are among a group of 25 to 30 people who have requested tickets.
Egbert spent Tuesday afternoon getting used to his new surroundings, reacquainting himself with his new teammates and pondering his eventual debut.
"It's been good so far," Egbert said. "Sunday night, when I found out, was kind of hectic. Today, obviously, [I've had] the phone calls and stuff. It was nice yesterday [was] an off-day -- kind of let it all sink in. Today, I'm sure when I get out there, it'll be a little different. But so far, it's been like any other game day."
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.