OAKLAND -- Just hours before beginning their series against the Orioles, the A's on Friday received the perfect boost by way of a surprise visit from Brandon McCarthy.
The right-handed pitcher, who last week underwent emergency brain surgery after taking a line drive to his head, insisted on making an appearance at the Coliseum in support of his teammates. In turn, he was greeted with a rousing reception as the A's came off the field from batting practice and entered the clubhouse.
"Everyone was really excited to see him," Jerry Blevins said. "I think he was really excited to see us, too. There's just nothing that compares to the clubhouse atmosphere, and just to have him back and being around the guys, it's hard to beat that."
McCarthy didn't stay long, as his activity level must remain monitored to assure a successful healing process. But he was around long enough to showcase the humor that embodies his personality.
He was working on a crossword puzzle as Blevins approached, and Blevins suggested as a joke to fill in all of the spaces with backward letters and then show it to the trainer. McCarthy had a better idea: populate each of the spaces with smiley faces.
"He's still the same old guy," Blevins said, laughing.
As for his looks, well those have slightly been altered.
"He's just got a buzzed head and a cool scar," Blevins said. "He looks a lot tougher than he did."
McCarthy also was presented a gift from Jonny Gomes, who had everyone sign a batting helmet on which he wrote "Heads Up" on the bill.
"It's great for him to be back and part of the team, even though he was always a part and never gone from our thoughts," Blevins said.