Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy is getting into the swing of things at Salt River Fields, not just because he's new to the team but also because he hasn't pitched since early September of last season.
All players deal with injuries and most pitchers suffer with the usual elbow or shoulder issues, but McCarthy's injury was a little bit different. He suffered a serious head injury after being hit by a line drive that fractured his skull and caused bleeding.
"Yeah he probably doesn't want to talk about it," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. "We can all understand why. You guys are going to ask him the questions and he's gotta get it out of the way and he's going to have to mentally overcome that. We'll make sure he's ready when he takes the mound."
Dealing with such a frightening injury could be as much of a mental hurdle as it is a physical hurdle for McCarthy. Due to the epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture, he underwent two hours of surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
"I think it is (tough) for everybody. You come back this time of year and you haven't thrown to a live hitter for a while. He did have extended time off," said Gibson. "McCarthy, maybe he'd be a guy that you give him an extra start. Get him out there and get him off and get him some extra time because he missed some time."
Gibson said McCarthy wouldn't want to address the traumatic brain injury but it sounds like he doesn't want to address it either. That could be a sign Gibby isn't worried about McCarthy getting back on the mound and facing a live hitter. Instead, he's more focused on McCarthy's ability to pitch.
"He's just kind of reinvented himself. He was more a power guy, over-thrower early in his career and has just really learned how to use his pitches. He keeps the ball down, move it around."
Gibson said the only thing McCarthy may have to get accustomed to is the slide-step. Former A's teammate and current D-backs' teammate Trevor Cahill warned him early that the slide-step is a staple in Arizona and he may want to start working on it.
"He's never really had to deal with that," Gibson said. "He went through that station today. He'll be good. We'll get him comfortable with that and when we get to the season we'll know what he's capable of.
"If a guy can't do it we're not going make him do it, but our goal is to get everybody comfortable with that."
The 29-year-old started 18 games last season for the A's and finished with an 8-6 record and a 3.24 ERA.
Over his six year major league career, he spent time with the White Sox, Rangers, A's and now the Diamondbacks.
McCarthy signed a 2-year-deal worth $15.5 million in December and was cleared to resume baseball activities last November.