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Brandon McCarthy returns to mound after brain injury

Last September 5, the baseball world watched in horror as a sharply-hit line drive off the bat of Angels shortstop Erick Aybar struck Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Brandon McCarthy in the back of the head.

While the 6-foot-7 right-hander writhed in pain on the mound, many thought they were witnessing the end of a promising baseball career. One of those people was McCarthy’s own wife.

“I personally thought baseball was over after last year,” Amanda McCarthy told the media Wednesday at Salt River Fields.

She was wrong.

McCarthy, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, faced live hitters for the first time Wednesday, pitching two strong innings in a 14-6 Cactus League loss to the Cincinnati Reds. It’s been only 175 days since the injury occurred.

The seven-year veteran feels like watching him pitch again was probably more nerve-wracking for his family than it was for him to take the mound.

“I would assume so based on what she’s been saying. It really wasn’t there for me but for her I guess it was and I would assume more for my family than me,” he said. “I think they’re the ones that took the brunt of it more so than I did. I’m glad this one is out of the way so I don’t have to hear about it anymore.”

The 29-year-old claims he’s only seen the injury on video once — and that was by accident. But he’s been able to suppress the memory of the incident by relying on carrying out normal procedures.

“If it’s on the front of your mind, than you’re worrying about it and you’re kind of letting it take over,” he said. “For me the biggest thing was just the soonest I could get back to normal and get back to my normal routine, it just kind of melts away.”

Against Cincinnati, McCarthy allowed three hits and an unearned run while striking out four — including fanning Reds hitters Billy Hamilton, Joey Votto and Ryan Ludwick in the first inning.

“Command-wise for a first spring outing I’d be really pleased with that. I’d be pleased with that command-wise in any outing almost,” McCarthy said. “All the things I’d like to have even later in the spring, I felt were good today so it’s a good place to start building upon.”