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MLB roundup: McCarthy impressive in first action since being hit in head

The SportsXchange

Brandon McCarthy pitched in a game on Wednesday for the first time since signing a free-agent contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. More important, it was the first time McCarthy took the mound since being struck in the head by a line drive in September in Oakland

McCarthy struck out four as he made his Cactus League debut for the Diamondbacks against the Cincinnati Reds. He appeared to show no ill effects from the incident that forced him to undergo emergency brain surgery and jeopardized his baseball career and his life in September.

According to ESPN.com, McCarthy told reporters, "I assume it will become less of a hot issue. For me, it can't really get more behind me than it is. But I think I'll always be that guy, where it's one of the defining markers for me. I just have to try to pitch well enough to get out of that."

McCarthy, 29, signed a two-year, $15.5 million contract with Arizona as a free agent in December. The Diamondbacks are hoping he can fill the fourth spot in the rotation.

McCarthy's biggest supporter, his wife Amanda, was skeptical that her husband would ever pitch again after suffering an epidural hemorrhage, skull fracture and a brain contusion.

"I personally thought baseball was over after last year," she said. "It's awesome to see him out there. It's surreal."

McCarthy struck out the first batter he faced on a called third strike, and after giving up a single, struck out the next two Reds to retire the side.

"The first outing of the spring is always a really rough one for me because I feel like I'm going to screw something up or forget something in my routine," McCarthy said. "That's what I'm nervous about. It's not the actual pitches or anything. I feel like I'm going to goof up and be on TV. But once you actually start throwing, everything starts to come back."

McCarthy was asked about pitchers wearing protective headgear.

"It's not very good -- at all." said the right-hander. "Until the products are better, it's going to be slow moving."

---The Red Sox will get their first look at Mike Napoli on Friday when the Boston free-agent acquisition suits up to play first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 31-year-old Napoli said his hips have remained pain-free. He has been taking batting practice and going through defensive drills, but most of his running has been in a pool to lessen the impact on his legs.

Napoli has been diagnosed with avascular necrosis, which causes bone deterioration due to an interruption of the blood supply. Because of the condition, which was detected during a physical before his free-agent deal became official, Napoli has been held back at spring training. He completed base-running drills on Wednesday -- one of the final hurdles before he could get back on the playing field.

---A Texas grand jury has decided not to indict the son of Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter in a sexual assault case.

Charges of sexual assault stemming from an incident that is alleged to have taken place last May have been dropped against Darius McClinton-Hunter, according to CBSSports.com. McClinton-Hunter, 18, was one of five people arrested and accused in an alleged sexual attack in Prosper Texas.

The grand jury's decision means it did not have enough evidence to prosecute McClinton-Hunter. Another teen was indicted on a charge of unlawful restraint, the Dallas Morning News reported.

---A knee injury has forced veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez to consider retirement after he withdrew from the World Baseball Classic.

The 36-year-old is still recovering from January surgery on his right knee and is not expected to pitch this season. Vazquez, a 14-year veteran with a 165-160 career record with a 4.22 ERA, won at least 10 games in every season from 2000-2011. He last pitched in the majors in 2011, when he compiled a 13-11 record in 32 starts for the Marlins.

---According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, police are investigating the Feb. 16 theft of the $3,000 Italian sausage costume that is used in the popular sausage races at Miller Park during Milwaukee Brewers games,

The 7-foot-long sausage was in a backroom of the Milwaukee Curling Club during a beer-tasting event -- of course. A witness saw the sausage walk out the door around 7:45 p.m. and within hours, the sausage had made an appearance at several bars.

Whoever took the costume could face charges, but Vahsholtz would not elaborate.Mustard Girl All American Mustards is offering a reward for the return of the costume -- a year's supply of mustard.
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