Two innings weren’t enough for Brandon McCarthy on Wednesday.
In his first spring training start with the Braves, McCarthy pitched a perfect first inning before requiring extra work to escape the second.
He needed to see more.
“I asked for another inning,” McCarthy said. “I hate the one, two-inning outings. Feels like you’re not getting anything accomplished. So getting a third inning was nice, to be able to get back out there after I was a little bit tired in the second. You can settle back in, get a little bit of stuff worked on.”
McCarthy pitched a perfect third, inducing two shallow pop-ups and a grounder. He held the Mets to one hit and no runs across three frames.
“Like midseason; he was sharp,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Spot on with everything. Really efficient, real good.”
He retired the first four hitters in order, including three via strikeout. McCarthy gave up a single to Peter Alonso and walked Zach Borenstein as his only misfires.
Catcher Tyler Flowers fired the ball to third for Rio Ruiz to tag Alonso out trying to advance. McCarthy got Gavin Cecchini to end the inning with a ground out.
“I had a couple pitches that weren’t sharp, kind of rushing out of there,” McCarthy said. “It was good to recognize that, and I know this week that’s a focus. I have to work on that and pick it up for the game next week.”
McCarthy’s velocity sat at 91-92 mph with a high of 93. He averaged 93.7 a season ago, and 93.1 in 2016.
“If I haven’t hit the cliff, then it’s good news,” he said.
After being limited to 19 games a season ago because of a recurring finger blister, knee tendinitis and a dislocated non-throwing shoulder, McCarthy’s feeling fully healthy this spring.
“Each year I get older, it’s (about) making sure everything’s not broken, or at least it’s not you come back, you’re not throwing 84 and you know this is the end is really the first checkpoint,” McCarthy said.
“And after that, do I feel comfortable with my delivery, like I’m pacing things well; after that it’s can I make pitches when I need to, am I sharp? Do I feel like I can execute? And slowly building from there is making sure you’re getting the reps in closer to the season.”
For McCarthy, a 12-year veteran who’s on his seventh team, spring training is the same regardless of the uniform. He just focuses on building a consistent routine during what he coins a “boring” period.
When the Braves acquired McCarthy from the Dodgers in December, he immediately became the team’s most seasoned starter. That doesn’t add a heightened sense of responsibility, he says. He just wants to be available for the younger arms.
“Maybe as the season went on that would be the case if guys had questions,” he said. “Otherwise, I don’t take much into that. A lot of these guys have played with older guys who’ve been doing everything.”
Snitker sees value in McCarthy’s experience.
“It stabilizes your rotation,” Snitker said. “You’ve got young guys, not-so-young guys trying to establish themselves. It’d be nice to have some stability.”