OAKLAND -- Twenty three days after being struck in the head by a line drive, Brandon McCarthy is back in the Athletics dugout. Twenty four days after, he'll throw a baseball.
McCarthy says he plans to be in uniform alongside his teammates for the final two home series, and he was cleared by doctors Friday to pick up a baseball on Saturday.
"Now I can be in the dugout. I can be around the game atmosphere again," McCarthy said. "I think it's really what I need to get my mind off everything."
McCarthy, who had two hours of surgery to stabilize an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture, is miraculously planning his normal offseason regimen in Dallas. It is typically four weeks after such an injury before any exertion is recommended. McCarthy expects to push the limits and test himself in the next week.
McCarthy, who was driven to the yard by his wife and still experiences bouts of "mild cloudiness," has stayed remarkably positive throughout the process.
"I try not to get down with anything," McCarthy said. "It's just the way my brain works, it tries to find the humor in anything."
His good humor will go a long way towards enhancing the A's healthy clubhouse atmosphere.
"He's a big boost on a team with so many young guys, especially a young staff," Sean Doolittle said. "He's a very calming presence and he's helped a lot of guys out just by the way he goes about his stuff.
"He keeps the mood relatively light. That's the biggest thing, he's such a good veteran presence for us young guys."
If you ask McCarthy, whose one-year, 4.275 million contract expires at the end of this season, he expects his presence to continue in Oakland.
"It's been that way from Day 1," McCarthy said. "And it certainly hasn't changed now. Going through something like this, where you see the reactions, not only from the fans and teammates, but the way the front office handled it was beyond first class.
"It truly shows you the family system that's in place. I'd like to be back here."
Aside from not being able to help his team, which has left McCarthy frequently yelling at the television, the worst part about the life-threatening affair?
"Really, the one thing I remember from this whole thing is just being unbelievably thirsty for about four days," McCarthy said. "I was on a salt drip for a few days, which is big for swelling on the brain. I couldn't drink water, I couldn't drink anything."
McCarthy is hoping his presence with the team will help the A's quench their thirst with the sweet taste of clubhouse champagne.