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Big League Stew

Brandon McCarthy returns to game action, says protective headgear options for pitchers need improvements

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Brandon McCarthy made headlines for two reasons on Wednesday.

First, for his impressive return to game action just six months after suffering a skull fracture, brain contusion and epidural hemorrhage when Erick Aybar's line drive struck him in the head, and then again after the game for his comments on whether or not he's a fan of the protective headgear options that are currently being tested by Major League Baseball.

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According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, who was one of the reporters that spoke to McCarthy immediately after his outing, the answer to that question was a resounding no.

McCarthy said he is not a proponent of protective headgear for pitchers unless someone can come up with an option that's better than the alternatives available.

"Until the products are better, it's going to be slow-moving,'' he said. "The stuff that's out there already is no good at all. It seems like it's still a long way away. I don't even care if it's MLB-approved. I just want something that's functionally approved by me."

The response may seem a bit startling coming from McCarthy, but it just speaks to one of the bigger issues MLB will have to deal with as they move forward with the headgear initiative. What's good for them and comfortable for one pitcher may not be for another. They'll likely have to come up with several different options when all is said and done. And when you hear such an emphatic rejection from a guy who experienced and thankfully survived the frightening injuries they're working to eliminate, it shows how far away they are from finding a solution that would be universally accepted.

But they'll keep working at it, as they should. Any improvements to keep players safer has to remain a priority.

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As for the actual pitching performance on Wednesday, in the very first inning McCarthy would set the tone by striking out Billy Hamilton, Joey Votto and Ryan Ludwick. Not bad at all. And the final line of two innings pitched, four strikeouts, with one earned run and three hits allowed is one the Arizona Diamondbacks will certainly celebrate despite what became a 14-6 loss to the Reds.

As will McCarthy's wife, Amanda, who told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that she was a bundle of nerves going into the game and just relieved to see his career seemingly pick right up where it left off.

"I was so nervous, I'm still shaking,'' said Amanda McCarthy after her husband was removed from the game. "I'm not a very nervous person in general, but this is a unique situation...I personally thought his baseball [career] was over last year. It was awesome to see him out there."

You won't get any argument from us.

Welcome back, Brandon.

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