KLEE: Diamondbacks' Brandon McCarthy sends message with recovery

By: Paul Klee
February 24, 2013
photo - Arizona's Brandon McCarthy, who went to Cheyenne Mountain High School,  is back pitching after a head injury last season. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Arizona's Brandon McCarthy, who went to Cheyenne Mountain High School, is back pitching after a head injury last season. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One thing we already knew about Brandon McCarthy:

His filter is roughly the size of an Arizona cactus needle. McCarthy, a twizard on Twitter, tweets about everything.

And when I say everything, I mean anything.

@BMcCarthy32 tweets about doing laundry with @Mrs_McCarthy32, his wife. He tweets bad ideas for Valentine’s Day. He tweets about the proper time for bowel movements.

“No fake tweets,” McCarthy said Sunday in the Diamondbacks clubhouse at Salt River Fields. “It’s literally what’s on the top of our (Brandon's and Amanda's) heads at that exact moment.”

If ever there was an athlete willing to put his opinion into publication, it is Brandon McCarthy.

That goes for all but one subject: "I'm probably missing out on some money by not writing a motivational book. But that’s just not me. What happened, it happens.”

What happened was McCarthy starring in the gnarliest YouTube video of the 2012 baseball season. Word of warning: Watch the replay before dinner.

On Sept. 5, McCarthy, a Cheyenne Mountain High School grad, fired a pitch 91 mph at home plate. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar blasted a line drive right back at the pitcher’s mound.

The baseball drilled McCarthy in the head, dropped him into the fetal position, fractured his skull and caused a brain contusion.

Three months later, McCarthy signed a two-year, $15.5-million contract with the Diamondbacks. The 6-foot-7 right-hander is recovered and scheduled to pitch Wednesday.

If ever there was an athlete qualified to write a motivational book, it is McCarthy.

I love that he has no interest in doing that. At his first spring training with the Diamondbacks, I asked McCarthy if his return to the mound has special meaning.

"No. It doesn’t mean anything to me, because it just places undue importance on what happened,” McCarthy said. “I realize that I’m extremely fortunate to be back. I know that. There’s a lot of things that could have been different. It’s just not how I look at life.

“I’m not one of those that says he’s fortunate for each day and writes a motivational Facebook post about it. I’m happy I’m here. I’m happy I have another chance. But I don’t think about it much more than that.”

No. 32 is no victim. When McCarthy signed up to play Little League as a kid in Colorado Springs, he signed up knowing that what happens, it happens.

There's no crying in baseball, but there are concussions. He didn’t sue MLB for subjecting him to an epidural hemorrhage (ugh, it just sounds awful) and 2-hour surgery.

He put himself in that position, McCarthy said. There’s enough regulation without bringing more into our games.

“I’m just the biggest believer about that in so many aspects: Let adults be adults,” McCarthy said. “It’s like smoking. Let people know, ‘Hey, this will kill you.’ But then go for it, man. That’s your choice. But don’t come suing us if it kills you.

“It’s the same with wearing helmets (in the field). If something goes wrong, don’t go sue Major League Baseball now. You assumed the risk by playing the game. That’s your choice. But I’m not a fan of mandatory rules like that. I’d rather just let people make their choice themselves. Be adults.”

No fake tweets, no fake opinions. McCarthy comes strong like a backdoor cutter.

“That’s usually the pitch that lefties, if they’re going to hit it, they’re going to stay through the middle on it,” McCarthy said. “That would be the pitch that it (a line drive at the mound) is going to happen on.

“I remember being very angry when it happened. But I wasn’t angry that (he got nailed in the head). I was angry because I wasn’t commanding my pitches. And that was like the perfect punishment for me: 'Now you really learned your lesson. You better locate better.'"

On Twitter, the McCarthys keep it real. Their back-and-forth routinely makes me LOL.

Before he could return to the mound, where a baseball rocket threatened his life, Brandon had to be real. He saw two options: retirement or resolve.

"I said if I’m going to keep playing, there’s no fear of the ball. The ball doesn’t have a mind of its own. It doesn’t come to attack you. If you’re going to play, there’s none of that.”

No fake tweets, no fake living — the only way he knows.

Paul Klee is the Denver sports columnist for The Gazette. He can be reached via email (paul.klee@gazette.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).

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