Brandon McCarthy pitches to hitters

It has been 5½ months since McCarthy faced a major-league batter. Normally, that wouldn't be remarkable. But in between, there was a fractured skull courtesy of Eric Aybar, a brain hemorrhage and two hours of emergency surgery to relieve pressure. So it's no exaggeration to call this a significant step, even though, like most of his colleagues, he threw from behind a protective screen. He reported afterward, "There's that thought of, 'Is something going to happen? The first time they swing, are you going to duck for cover and run for center?'" But it really wasn't there. I threw the first pitch, he didn't swing and it was, 'Oh, this is easy, let's go back and do this again.'"

Jack Magruder says that McCarthy is looking to add a change-up back to his repertoire [spring training cliche #37: pitchers trying out a new pitch]. :"McCarthy threw an unorthodox change back then, gripping the ball with his little finger, ring finger and thumb. His new change is the more typical circle change." It's very much a work in progress: "The changeup needs to come along. There are some trust issues there. I’ve been away for it for so long it feels brand-new. It’s finding a comfortable grip. Finding a trust with it where you can see hitters reactions and you know you can just throw it over the plate." However, this morning, McCarthy had other concerns: