Pitcher Brandon McCarthy made headlines last year when he was hit by a batted ball in the head late last season. The injury turned so serious that he was hospitalized with brain hemorrhaging.
His head trauma spurred Major League Baseball to again look at protective headgear for pitchers, including inserts for baseball caps. However, MLB is not ready to debut such headgear this season.
The Associated Press reported that McCarthy, who has since signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks, made his first pitching appearance since the injury in a spring training outing Wednesday. And he looked sharp.
Brandon McCarthy methodically struck out four in two innings in his first game since a horrific head injury, an impressive return that overshadowed all else in the Diamondbacks’ 14-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
McCarthy, signed to a two-year deal by the Diamondbacks as a free agent, gave up one run on three hits. He had not taken the mound in a game since Sept. 5 when he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of the Angels’ Erick Aybar while pitching for Oakland. McCarthy sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.
His wife was unusually nervous during the outing.
Amanda McCarthy, something of a celebrity in her own right with more than 26,000 Twitter followers, had been unusually quiet on her Twitter account as game time approached.
“I was pretty nervous. I was kind of getting shaky,” she said. “My girlfriends were trying to distract me and talk to me. I’m not a very nervous person in general when he pitches, but obviously this is a unique situation.”
Then she watched her husband strike out Billy Hamilton, Joey Votto and Ryan Ludwick in the first inning.
McCarthy said he felt very good about his comeback and he doesn’t want to dwell on last year’s horrific injury.
“I would assume it becomes less of a hot issue, less questions about it, or at least they’ll kind of thin out, which is a good thing,” he said. “For me it really can’t get more behind me than it is, but just in terms of answering questions about it, it will probably go away. But I think I’ll always kind of be ‘that’ guy, to a point where that’s just one of the defining markers. I have to try and pitch well enough to get out of that but it will always kind of be there.”
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor