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Brandon McCarthy faces hitters for first time since skull fracture

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Brandon McCarthy took a big step on Monday. (AP)

Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy cleared a big mental hurdle on Monday as he faced hitters for the first time since suffering a life-threatening skull fracture last September.

If McCarthy's comments to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert after Monday's efforts are any guide, he won't be haunted by what happened to him last season:

"It honestly is completely normal. Anything you would have thought might have been there wasn't. I was more nervous about where my command was at, where my stuff was at. ... 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.'"

That's excellent news, of course. And in that very peculiar respect, it's actually a good thing that McCarthy's long-standing shoulder issues may be his biggest concern going forward.

McCarthy is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA and 3.04 K/BB ratio in 111 innings for the Athletics. There's no doubting what McCarthy can do when healthy, but the reality is that he's never managed more than 170 2/3 innings in a season.

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