GOODYEAR — Brandon McCarthy allowed five runs on six hits in his innings in the Dodgers’ 14-5 loss to the Indians on Monday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark, but that wasn’t his main focus on the mound.
Like nearly every spring day, this was a day of putting in work. Much like the four months of the offseason McCarthy spent commuting from his Arizona home to Camelback Ranch to get his offseason workouts in.
Monday, like nearly every other day for the last several months, has been about building up toward the regular season. To that end, McCarthy accomplished his goal, nearing his 75-pitch limit in his 4⅓ innings, getting that out in the fifth after getting up and down a fifth time against Cleveland.
"We're continuing to build him up. The last couple innings the execution was there. Early on we weren't making plays for him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Right now where we're at in spring, we're comfortable. I think he's comfortable. It was a step in the right direction.
"The execution is not where it's going to be, but the ball is coming out of his hand well.”
Three of the four runs in the first inning against McCarthy were unearned, thanks in part to a pair of errors by first baseman Ike Davis.
But after the last two years, when McCarthy recovered from Tommy John surgery then contracted the yips -- he doesn’t necessarily call it the yips, instead referring to his 2016 season as “a big bowl of weird soup.” — allowing runs in a spring training game doesn’t faze McCarthy.
Instead, his focus was on his focus.
“I noticed last year it was 14-15 months of turning off that muscle. I noticed in games I wasn't as sharp. It wasn't something I could call on the way I wanted to,” McCarthy said. “There was nothing in my rehab program that requires that a way a Major League Baseball game does.
“I think I got comfortable being at 70%. You're so focused on being healthy that every pitch isn't thrown with perfect intent.”
Now it’s about getting ready for the regular season, which means throwing in a minor league game his next time out this weekend. The more controlled environment allows him to ensure he can build up to six innings while also working on what he needs to work on.
“You lose the adrenaline from pitching in the big stadium, but you do get the focus or working to 90 pitches,” McCarthy said. “If you want to throw 70 curveballs, throw 70 curveballs. It's my last chance to really tighten everything up.”
Nothing is official, but it would be an upset if McCarthy isn’t in the Dodgers rotation to start the season. The 33-year-old has loftier goals.
“If I felt that was a significant achievement, I've aimed way too low. Twelve years in, I've been doing this for a long time,” McCarthy said. “My focus is on making 33 starts, pitching in the postseason, and doing everything I do to be a solid major league starter.”
The Dodgers are back at Camelback Ranch to host the Brewers on Tuesday afternoon. The 1:05 p.m. game will not be broadcast on TV or radio in Los Angeles, but the Brewers’ broadcast feed is available through MLB Gameday Audio.
Hyun-jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers, and is expected to pitch four innings.