Pitcher Brandon McCarthy is ready for a normal off-season after being medically cleared this week to resume his regular routine, less than three months after being struck in the head by a line drive and undergoing emergency brain surgery.
"Everything's good," McCarthy said by telephone Thursday. "This last month I have taken the rest part very seriously. I have a couple little projects I've picked up, I read — I'm actually really good at being lazy. It kind of worked out well timing wise."
McCarthy, a free agent right-hander who was Oakland's opening-day starter last March in Tokyo, spent Monday and Tuesday undergoing extensive evaluations by renowned concussion expert, Dr. Michael Collins, at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to his Dallas-area home Wednesday and was cleared by Collins to begin working out.
"Today I'll start doing something, easing in and starting the program they gave me," McCarthy said. "Next week I'll be heading back to where I usually work out."
McCarthy took a line drive to the right side of his head off the bat of the Los Angeles Angels' Erick Aybar on Sept. 5. The 29-year-old McCarthy sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture on the play, then underwent a two-hour surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. After the frightening ordeal, the club initially referred to McCarthy's situation as "life-threatening."
Now, he checks in with Dr. Collins once a week to let him know that everything is going well, or if something seems a little off. McCarthy's concussion symptoms have subsided, but he still has to use caution and take notice of everything when exerting himself.
"Going to Dr. Collins kind of confirmed all that, you're back to where you'd be at normally," McCarthy said. "As I go back to working out, as long as I feel fine, I'm pretty much on my own. I'll slowly ease back into working out, then jump back into my full program."
McCarthy went 8-6 with a 3.24 earned-run average this year in his sixth big league season and second with the A's. McCarthy was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 2011.
He plans to begin playing catch next month, then throw bullpens starting in January if all continues to go well. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported he had been cleared to resume baseball activities.
"It worked out well I recovered in the time I did," McCarthy said. "This shouldn't be something that lingers into the off-season."
The American League West champion A's have received regular updates on McCarthy's condition, and he could still be a good option to re-sign as long as the medical reports remain positive.
McCarthy plans to let the process play out in time, knowing his case isn't as it would be had he not been hurt late in the year with such a scary injury that left plenty questioning whether he would ever pitch again.
The support from the A's front office, medical staff, coaches, teammates and fans has meant so much to McCarthy and his wife, Amanda.
"It's definitely not something I'd rule out," he said of staying with Oakland. "The timing is a little strange going into free agency for the first time, having different options, waiting to see where you're at health wise. We'll listen to everybody. It's a whirlwind. But [Oakland], it's absolutely a place I'd love to be."