McCarthy gave up six runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings for Triple-A Sacramento, but as A's manager Bob Melvin said on Tuesday, it's "more about health than results at this point" for McCarthy, and the starter felt good Tuesday, a positive sign.
After a couple days of rest, McCarthy will throw another bullpen session, and Oakland will then decide whether he makes another rehab appearance or comes right back to the team.
Melvin says there's a "good chance" the righty will make another rehab start, since they'd like him to get back up to 80 pitches -- he threw 66 on Monday night -- but left open the possibility that he won't.
"You want to make sure he's throwing the ball where he wants to and he feels good about himself coming back to the big league level," Melvin said. "We just have not gotten there yet because health is the big issue with him, and once he throws his bullpen, we'll have a better indication."
Another issue involves what to do once McCarthy is healthy enough to return. While the A's will certainly be happy to have him back, they haven't exactly missed him. The emergence of A.J. Griffin and Travis Blackley has helped lead to a 3.73 starters' ERA, good for second in the American League entering Tuesday.
"Tough decisions, yet you can't have too many guys, so we're in a good position as far as that goes," Melvin said. "We'll figure it out once [McCarthy and Brett Anderson] are available and come back to the point where we feel like they're ready to go at the big league level."
The possibility of a six-man rotation seems a relevant one. The added rest would benefit both McCarthy -- perhaps alleviating his shoulder woes -- and the team's three rookie starters, whose innings are under careful watch by the organization.
As of now, both Melvin and Assistant General Manager David Forst said such a move has not been discussed.