McCarthy trying to return -- and soon
Righty receives some pointers a day after missing his start
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers received an unexpected visit on Thursday afternoon from Brandon McCarthy.After being scratched from his start on Wednesday night, McCarthy was at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to work with team president Nolan Ryan, pitching coach Andy Hawkins and bullpen coach Jim Colborn. All parties involved seemed satisfied with the results. "I just got back to mechanics," McCarthy said. "I'd just gotten so far off, this was just what I needed. Every time I threw, I was getting more and more off." McCarthy has made his last three rehab starts with Triple-A Oklahoma, as he recovers from severe inflammation in his right elbow. At Oklahoma, he's increased his pitch count considerably, but he's been dissatisfied with the quality of his outings. So McCarthy took it upon himself to contact Ryan, whom he worked with during Spring Training, and set up the throwing session. "My problem was, I was throwing 90 pitches, but they were just 90 awful pitches," McCarthy said. "If I can stick with [the adjustments], I'm the same pitcher I used to be." According to McCarthy, these mechanical issues didn't just pop up since he began his rehab assignment. He said he hasn't felt mechanically sound the past two years. When he recently felt some discomfort in his right shoulder, he decided it was time for a change. "I'm not an injury-prone guy, and I've never had any problems throwing strikes," McCarthy said.
But he thinks he might have solved his pitching issues thanks to some brainstorming between himself, Ryan, Hawkins and Colborn.The two main adjustments McCarthy made were bringing his hands over his head at the beginning of his windup to help keep him balanced while throwing more with his lower body -- two things Ryan knows plenty about. McCarthy threw more than 40 pitches during the bullpen session, and he was noticeably excited with the results afterward. The righty had no explanation for why it took two years to make these necessary adjustments to his mechanics, but he's hoping the issues are behind him now. "I have no idea," McCarthy said. "Maybe my mechanics weren't right, and they just kept slipping and led to a downward spiral. But at least now I'm on the way back up instead of holding steady where I was." McCarthy's stay in Arlington will be brief, though, as he will rejoin Oklahoma in Albuquerque, N.M., and make his next start sometime in the next five days -- Monday would put him back on his previous schedule. However, McCarthy is hoping his visit on Thursday will get him on the fast track back to Arlington. He said his goal is to be pitching for the Rangers by Sept. 1. Manager Ron Washington had no timetable for McCarthy's return to the Major Leagues, but he simply said the team can't use him until it's confident that he won't break down. After seeing McCarthy in person, Ryan isn't willing to rule out the possibility of joining the Rangers at some point down the stretch. "Oftentimes, it's just a minor adjustment you point out that fixes it; now he needs to go back to Oklahoma and maintain those mechanics," Ryan said. "I'm not saying he couldn't because we've got two months left. With the stuff I saw today, I think he could."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.