GOODYEAR, AZ. -- From all indications, Brandon McCarthy has won back his job in the Dodgers starting rotation after two years of agony, but he doesn't see it as a significant achievement.
"If I felt that was a significant achievement, I'm aiming too low," said McCarthy. "Twelve years in, winning a spot is not where my focus is. It's making 33 starts and the postseason. It's doing everything I need to do as a solid Major League starter. Winning a rotation spot is step one. I came to spring this year with the attitude of doing everything every day to be ready for the start of the season, wherever it is."
From Tommy John surgery in 2015 to the yips while on the comeback trail last year, McCarthy has endured. But in 2012, his career could've easily ended when a line drive fractured his skull, so enduring is on the resume. The right-hander made 10 appearances last season for the Dodgers, registering a 4.95 ERA.
He endured a rocky first inning during the Dodgers' 14-5 loss to the Indians on Monday, thanks to a pair of Ike Davis errors. He hit his pitch count after 4 1/3 innings and will try to get six innings in his next start under controlled conditions in a Minor League game.
McCarthy doesn't shy away from talking about last year's wildness, all part of the challenges of returning from Tommy John surgery.
"It was some good, some bad, some weird. A big bowl of weird soup," McCarthy said. "Coming back, you don't focus on mechanics. You focus on being healthy. One of the things I'm focusing on is keeping my focus."
He said the "focus muscle" gets shut off during the monotony of rehab.
"I noticed last year, after spending 14 or 15 months, the focus is not the same," McCarthy said. "You turn off that muscle and I noticed in games it wasn't as sharp and I couldn't call on it like I wanted to. Nothing in a rehab program calls for that like a Major League game. Spring is long but it gives me a chance to work on that muscle."
The Dodgers reassigned pitchers Patrick Schuster and Madison Younginer to Minor League camp on Monday.
Both were non-roster invitees. The Dodgers now have 51 players in camp, not counting Yimi Garcia (60-day disabled list).
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.