GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon McCarthy’s first few outings with the Los Angeles Dodgers were a tad rough. He had an 8.00 ERA when the Dodgers sent him down to a minor league game to get his innings in and to shield him from a division opponent, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It was spring training, of course, so nobody was too worked up about it, but first impressions weren’t dazzling.
But on Sunday the Dodgers saw the pitcher they thought they were getting when they invested $48 million over four years back at the winter meetings. Pitching against a solid major league lineup in brutal desert heat, McCarthy limited damage early and got in a groove late in the Dodgers’ 10-5 win over the Texas Rangers. He pitched into the sixth inning while throwing 91 pitches in his longest tune-up for an expected April 8 regular season debut.
“He’s a pro and that’s kind of what you’d expect from a guy who’s had a lot of success,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
McCarthy, 31, has been effective when healthy, but in a 10-year career he had never reached 200 innings until last season. He has a lengthy post-start routine that includes shoulder-strengthening exercises, icing and “sitting and breathing,” as he put it.
McCarthy viewed Sunday as an important test because he had to sit for long periods between innings, he survived a long third inning that included a walk, a wild pitch and an Adrian Beltre run-scoring double.
“It was kind of good that the game was moving incredibly slowly and it was hot and I had to keep waiting and keep waiting and keep waiting,” McCarthy said. “It felt like a long six innings to get through, but it was good that I got to find out where I was conditioning-wise and endurance-wise.”
McCarthy also jammed Beltre with a pitch, but the Rangers’ third baseman somehow yanked it into the left-field corner from one knee for another double. According to McCarthy, the former Dodger once hit a home run off him from one knee and he finds Beltre’s antics “entertaining.”
“He does weird stuff all the time,” McCarthy said. “He kept running out of the box on curveballs and, in no fashion do I believe that he was doing that because he was afraid of the cuveball. He was doing that because he’s Adrian Beltre.”