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Getting fired up about Brandon McCarthy

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Ready to get fired up about Brandon McCarthy?

Jim Reeves has a column out on McCarthy, talking him up as a guy who makes the Ranger scouts get all weak in the knees:

The White Sox may worry about his gopher-ball rate, and Arlington is not a good place for any right-handed pitcher," Gammons wrote, "but there are many, many people who believe McCarthy is Jack McDowell II."

* * *

There are no guarantees, of course, but as senior scout Mel Didier said Tuesday as he watched McCarthy throw his first bullpen session since camp opened, there's a chance.

Didier was one of the voices Daniels listened to carefully when making the trade for McCarthy. Like McCarthy, Didier lives here in Arizona. He scouted the 23-year-old right-hander during a workout in December, before the deal was consummated.

"I regard McCarthy as one of the top five young pitchers under 24 years old in our game," Didier said. "I believe he'll be a starter who can maybe work himself up to a No. 1 or No. 2."

Where some scouts look at the 6-foot-7 McCarthy and see another Jack McDowell, Didier sees former Cardinals ace Matt Morris.

"Matt Morris, when he came into the game was just like McCarthy, tall and skinny," Didier said. "He threw from a downhill plane. He threw a little harder than McCarthy.

"Both had great curveballs that are equalizers. McCarthy has a better changeup and better control. Matt Morris didn't have that kind of control when he first came up."

* * *

"He has three major league pitches," pitching coach Mark Connor said. "His changeup is top of the scale. His curveball is above average. His fastball hits 88-92 (mph), and he has good control.

"He's exuberant about starting. He didn't like being in the bullpen. I think we're getting him at the right time."

So does McCarthy, who has seen the major league careers of contemporaries such as Francisco Liriano and Justin Verlander already taking off. He's ready to start playing catch-up.

"I definitely envision myself as a future ace," he said. "I would love to be in that role. I welcomed that in the minor leagues. In high school and college, that was something I thrived on, the guy that every five days goes out to the mound, a Chris Carpenter, Johan Santana type where you just know you've got a good chance to get a good win today and get a good outing."

Watching him throw Tuesday, Didier remembered again seeing McCarthy last spring in a White Sox uniform. At that point, he could only drool and hope.

"I won't say I was mesmerized, but I said then, `God, this guy's got something going for him that's going to be special.' He threw a lot of balls right on the knees and threw quality strikes," Didier recalled. "I just feel like he's that kind of guy, that he could be something special.

"Who knows? Only God knows how he's going to turn out. But he's got the chance to really be something. He's got that chance."

I try to stay cynical -- it is the only way to stay sane, as a Ranger fan -- but reading stuff like that does get me pretty fired up about seeing McCarthy in the rotation.

Reeves also hits on the behind-the-scenes issues that have been hinted at with McCarthy and Kenny Williams:

Why did the White Sox suddenly make McCarthy available? Good question but there's no clear-cut answer. McCarthy had made it known that he was ready to start after a year's apprenticeship in the bullpen, but there are rumors that there was more to it than that, perhaps even something personal between Williams and the young pitcher.

"Without getting too much into it, there were personal things between us in different realms, but not really in how I was being used, certainly not last year," McCarthy said. "When you've got five (starters) of that caliber, cracking that rotation is certainly not going to be easy.

"I said it a lot of times that I would love to be starting, but that was the competitive side of me. I wasn't whining or complaining, but I don't know if that was taken out of context."