The child grew up to be a childhood hero, but now he's a child again, sitting 25 feet from his own childhood hero.

Brandon McCarthy, a kid from Colorado Springs, sat in the Coors Field visitors' dugout Tuesday, watching Vinny Castilla play catch.

"It's where you went and saw big-league baseball, this whole different world," the Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher said during the Rockies' batting practice. "To get in here, and be able play here, it's (like) finishing your childhood dream."

McCarthy is now a hero to kids, a talented major-league pitcher for a first-place team. Really, though, McCarthy is also a hero to adults. He's pretty awesome. He's comedian funny. He's elicits LOLs on Twitter with his hilarious tweets. He married a model. He studies sabermetrics as a fan would — in fact, he changed some of his pitching approaches because of numbers. Oh, and he's also a hero because he persevered after undergoing brain surgery.

On Sept. 5, 2012, the Cheyenne Mountain High School graduate was struck by a line drive while pitching for the Oakland A's. It fractured his skull and caused an epidural hemorrhage. His head proved strong — and with his headstrong approach, he returned to form for opening day.

"The first thing I tried to do was realize it was a freak thing, it happened, and try to get back to normal as soon as possible," said McCarthy, 29.

He didn't get to pitch at Coors Field this trip, but he's coming off perhaps the best start of his career. Saturday at Miami, he pitched a shutout, allowing just three hits, striking out five and walking two.

After signing a two-year, $18 million deal with Arizona in the offseason, it gave McCarthy (1-3) his first win since the injury. He has a 4.74 ERA.

"I think it just took him time to settle in," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's always a strike thrower. He's done that all year, but he's found his mechanics. His velocity is good, with more finish on his pitches. He throws a cutter, a two-seamer and you see a lot more action late in those. His curveball is a lot better, and he uses his changeup sporadically. He's just gotten comfortable."

McCarthy is famous for adjusting. After pitching at Cheyenne Mountain and a season at Lamar Community College, he struggled in his early professional seasons, racking up the injuries and earned runs.

Inspired by sabermetrics, which is the analysis of baseball stats through objective numbers, he changed his approach in the fall of 2009.