The Chicago White Sox are hoping to get their weekend series with the Oakland Athletics off to a winning start on Friday night. Gavin Floyd takes the ball for the White Sox, who are hoping to spoil the homecoming of a former South Side hurler.
Opposing Floyd Friday will be Brandon McCarthy, who is pitching for the first time since June 19. Shoulder issues have kept him on the shelf, as they recently have for the player the White Sox traded for him back in December of 2006.
After starting 10 games for the 2005 World Series Champions, McCarthy spent most of 2006 in the White Sox bullpen. GM Kenny Williams moved the promising right-hander to Texas in a five player swap. The key names in the deal were McCarthy, Nick Masset, and a prospect by the name of John Danks.
There was some trepidation about moving McCarthy, but Masset pitched for a season and a half before being part of the deal to bring Ken Griffey, Jr., to Chicago. Danks was tossed into the starting rotation in 2007 and now has a long-term contract with the White Sox.
Danks' shoulder problems should be quite familiar to McCarthy as he has struggled to remain healthy. Shoulder blade issues hampered him while going 5-10 for the Rangers in 2007. Elbow inflammation caused him to miss most of 2008.
Despite making only 17 starts the next season, McCarthy did go 7-4 for Texas in 2009. However, he missed the entire 2010 season with stress fractures in that right shoulder.
McCarthy signed with Oakland as a free agent and has arguably been their best pitcher when he has been able to throw. He posted a career-best ERA of 3.32 while going 9-9 in 2011. This season, he is 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA.
McCarthy keeps the ball on the ground and doesn't walk a lot of batters. At age 29, he could be one healthy season away from being a top pitcher in the majors. With his history, however, that's a lot to ask.
This will be McCarthy's first start in Chicago since being traded six years ago. He is 1-1 versus the White Sox, having beaten them in 2009 with the Rangers and lost last year in Oakland.
McCarthy is a guy I've rooted for to make it in the big leagues since he left Chicago. I wish him well in his return off the DL. As a White Sox fan, I just hope he picks up his first win someplace else.