Now, he seems to reject that description.“I’m not rejecting it. I don’t care what people call it. It just is what it is,” McCarthy said after his most recent start this week. “Now it’s not something I think about and it’s not something I carry with me. Give it whatever name you want in the world. It’s just there.”McCarthy returned to pitch twice in September, once in relief when he was unable to retire any of the six batters he faced. There were reports the Dodgers had tried to dump his contract on the Milwaukee Brewers as part of a trade that would have exchanged outfielders Yasiel Puig and Ryan Braun. Left off the Dodgers’ postseason roster, McCarthy spent his winter putting last season behind him.“The offseason was nice that I just got to reset. I was able to go to work on a good program,” said McCarthy, who lives in the Phoenix area and worked out daily during the winter at the Dodgers’ complex in Glendale. “It was very easy for me to just enjoy my time at home with my family. Be a dad. Be a husband. Then come to work and focus individually. It was good to clear everything out, and then when spring started I noticed it was just business as usual.”Despite last year’s weirdness, McCarthy said it has been “a totally normal spring” for him this year. Any feeling that he had to prove himself trustworthy again – to himself or to the Dodgers – has been sublimated.“Maybe somewhere in the sub-conscious. But it wasn’t a conscious thing,” McCarthy said. “It was very much just go out there and throw. I’d been throwing well in the offseason. I’d progressed. Everything I wanted to do, I’d done. The mentality there was just clear everything out and start spring training trying to throw hard, trying to throw strikes, trying to do everything you can do and then start to pitch in games and see where you’re at.”Whatever McCarthy went through last season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said “he seems like he’s over it and past it.”“We’ve turned the page on that,” Roberts said. “I think he’s trying to look at this season as a clean slate. … He’s where he’s supposed to be.”That appears to be back in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, at least to start the season. That was not a foregone conclusion before spring training started.“If I felt that was a significant achievement, I’ve aimed way too low,” said McCarthy who has allowed 10 runs (only seven earned) on 14 hits in 13 innings over his first four spring starts. “Twelve years in, I’ve been doing this for a long time. Winning a spot is not where my focus is. My focus is on making 33 starts, pitching in 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.” Fifteen months after undergoing Tommy John surgery to replace the damaged UCL, McCarthy returned to a major-league mound, pitching five scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies just days short of his 33rd birthday in July.McCarthy made four more relatively effective starts before he lost his way. In three consecutive starts, he walked 15 in 8 1/3 total innings. In his final start against the Pirates on Aug. 13, he faced 13 batters, walked five of them, hit one, gave up two hits and retired only five.Afterwards, McCarthy essentially put himself on the DL – “I need some time off,” he said to reporters after the game, clearly distressed by his own performance.“Coming back, you don’t spend that time focusing on your mechanics. You focus that time on being healthy,” McCarthy says now of that experience. “Every pitch you throw, the velocity is there but you’re not worried about the velocity. You’re not even that worried about the command of it or what you’re doing with it or what your mechanics are doing or how sharp you might be. You’re just making sure you’re not blown out and you can keep going with it.”Last fall, McCarthy referenced “the yips” – the forbidden word used to describe an athlete’s inability to perform the routine but subtly complex tasks required in his job. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error GLENDALE, Ariz. — Brandon McCarthy has certainly returned from injuries before. His career is pockmarked by those challenges – most prominently, serial shoulder woes including surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season and a frightening skull fracture caused by a line drive back to the mound in 2012 that resulted in seizures and required medication months later.But returning from Tommy John surgery was somehow different.“Just a big bowl of weird soup, I guess,” the veteran right-hander said by way of assessing his 2016 experience.Signed to a four-year, $48 million contract by the Dodgers before the 2015 season, McCarthy made only four starts the following April before being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow – an all-too-familiar diagnosis with one of sport’s most famous remedies.