Nearly two full months after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, Brandon McCarthy was in the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse on Saturday and he said he was ready to rejoin the team.
The night before, on Friday in Reno, McCarthy made his second rehab start since being placed on the disabled list, holding Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, to six hits and three runs (two earned), throwing 85 pitches over 6.0 innings pitched.
“Everything was kind of there,” McCarthy said of the outing. “I felt comfortable. I was able to get back into mental game shape where you’re kind of going after it and you’re pushing through where you’ve been before. So that was all positive.”
McCarthy has landed on the disabled list in each of his last five seasons with a shoulder injury and his current stint is the eighth of his career.
Last September, while pitching for the Oakland Athletics, the 30-year-old suffered a head injury from a line drive hit off the bat of Erick Aybar, requiring emergency brain surgery and requiring him to sit out for the rest of the season. McCarthy suffered a seizure related to the 2012 head injury back in early June — an incident he said wouldn’t be a setback in his injury rehabilitation.
The right-hander’s lengthy injury history has made his current recovery easier to deal with, he said.
“The first time or two that I went through this, I came back and was garbage because it feels like Game 7 of the World Series,” he said. “You’re amped, there’s too much energy, you don’t know how to control it. You peter out really quick.
“Now I feel like when I come back it feels like just a start again. You get your normal butterflies but it kind of feeds in with the rehab starts. At least going through the two, I treat them like big league starts. I don’t do anything different.”
Now, after two months of pacing his rehabilitation, McCarthy said he feels he’s ready to return to the Diamondbacks.
“In terms of pitching, I feel like I’m where I’d like to be. Usually when I go through this process the second one, I want to see myself being what I consider to be major league ready.
“I want to feel sharp and have places to build off of and that was the case last night. This is typically where I like to be and this it’s where I am right now.”
Regardless of his perceived readiness to rejoin the team, however, the Diamondbacks seemed to have a starting pitching logjam over the last month, making it difficult to foresee a spot for McCarthy to fit into the rotation.
Even McCarthy himself wasn’t sure how he’d crack into the starting staff.
“That’s not my job,” he said. “It’s a good problem to have for them. But I don’t sit down and stew. I don’t look at rosters. I don’t look at depth. If everybody is throwing well, it sorts itself out. These things always kind of work out.”
Hours after his statement, the quandary, indeed, may have worked itself out.
Twenty-one-year-old Diamondbacks starter Tyler Skaggs struggled mightily with his command, walking five Padres, and hitting one, while giving up seven runs in just 3.2 innings pitched. Just 44 of Skaggs’ 85 pitches on Saturday were for strikes and he allowed three hits.
Given Skaggs’ relative lack of effectiveness this season and McCarthy’s claim of recovery, it’s possible that his return could come on Thursday — exactly two months after being placed on the disabled list — in the Diamondbacks makeup game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
He’d welcome that.
“Summer vacation is over now.”