A White Sox holiday Q&A

A White Sox holiday Q&A

CHICAGO -- Important gifts from the holiday season started coming a little early this year for Brandon McCarthy.

Actually, the ultimate present for the lanky right-handed hurler didn't even need to be unwrapped upon delivery on Dec. 6. On that particular Wednesday night, while McCarthy was home in Arizona, White Sox general manager Ken Williams traded Freddy Garcia to Philadelphia for two young pitchers in return at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.

McCarthy wouldn't be considered Scrooge in this instance, as he certainly didn't want to see his friend, mentor and fellow member of the vaunted White Sox staff depart for the National League. But Garcia's exit all but guaranteed a move from the bullpen to a more comfortable spot in the starting rotation for McCarthy.

At least, the White Sox rotation looked as if it would include McCarthy up until two days before Christmas. On Dec. 23, McCarthy found out his chance to start still existed for the 2007 season, but that opportunity would come in Texas.

Williams sent McCarthy to the Rangers in exchange for pitching prospects John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner. The move stunned McCarthy, but couldn't dampen his strong affinity for Chicago or his time with the White Sox.

"It would have been fun to pitch with the White Sox and be there [as a starter] for a full season," McCarthy told MLB.com shortly after the trade. "But I got my first World Series ring with my favorite team growing up. That was special.

"My first everything in the big leagues have been with the Sox. I will miss all that and I really feel like I'm a Chicago guy in love with the city and the people. It will be tough to get over that. At the same time, I'm looking forward to something new."

Before the trade was announced and with the end of 2006 fast approaching, McCarthy took a few minutes out of his extensive 2007 baseball preparation to focus on life outside of the game while attending the White Sox holiday party for kids from Chicago area Boys and Girls Clubs.

MLB.com: Do you have any holiday traditions in your family?

McCarthy: Pretty standard. Everyone gets together. We are selling the house in Colorado, so that tradition is going to stop soon. But right now, we will all go back and my mom is very official about Christmas.

On Christmas morning, all the gifts have to be opened one by one, it's a whole process. It takes us five hours. That's about our tradition right there. It's mom being tyrannical on Christmas morning, but it's always something I still hold very dear.

MLB.com: Just you and your sister back with your family?

McCarthy: Me and my sister, and my dad is actually living in Tucson right now. He has a job there. But we will all be back for Christmas and be back together.

MLB.com: Do you have a favorite holiday memory growing up?

McCarthy: Not one specific memory. It's usually just Christmas morning. It has always been a big deal in my family. The whole process is drawn out a little bit by my mom, but it's always been done the same way and something I grew to love.

MLB.com: What's the best gift you can remember getting as a kid?

McCarthy: Whatever the big gift was every year, it didn't matter. It's whatever the gift you got right then. I don't know if there's one that trumped them all, and I'm sure my mom will be mad for me saying this. There had to be something in there that was above and beyond.

But every year there was that new big gift you had to have, so that was the best one ever you had to have.

MLB.com: Was there any gift you really wanted that you never received and still remember missing out on to this day?

McCarthy: I always wanted a car, and that never came. I'm still bitter about that one (laughs). Other than that, no, they always made sure they got the one big gift for me I wanted.

MLB.com: What's the best gift you've ever given?

McCarthy: Ever given? I don't know. I'm not that good at it. I always try to pick out cool things, and they always end up being disappointed. I don't know if I've ever given out a good gift.

MLB.com: Do you give out a great deal of gifts every year?

McCarthy: I try and then I end up forgetting about somebody or I give out a bad gift. It's always somebody or something new that I screwed up.

MLB.com: Is there a favorite or traditional holiday food for you or your family?

McCarthy: My mom is a chef, so on Christmas Eve, she makes duck with a whole bunch of other stuff. That's one of the meals during the year you look forward to. That night and on Christmas, we have prime rib.

MLB.com: Are you big on making any New Year's resolutions?

McCarthy: No. It doesn't make any sense. Why is one day a year ...

If you want to get skinny, get skinny. If you want to do something, I don't really care when you do it. I don't think I've ever made a New Year's resolution.

MLB.com: Let's try a brief holiday quiz. White Christmas or no snow?

McCarthy: No snow, but there's a reason. Every year I end up getting a football, and I would rather throw it when it's dry outside than in the snow.

MLB.com: Eggnog or a normal drink?

McCarthy: Eggnog once, but other than that, a normal drink.

MLB.com: Turkey or ham for the Christmas meal?

McCarthy: I would actually choose my mom's duck, but between those two, I would choose turkey.

MLB.com: Is Christmas more commercial or religious in your mind?

McCarthy: Commercial.

MLB.com: What's the best individual baseball gift you could get during the 2007 season?

McCarthy: Twenty wins and a Cy Young, I guess. Less than 50 home runs allowed? Something like that. I'll stick with 20 wins -- that would be nice to get.

MLB.com: How have the holidays changed since you became a Major Leaguer and earned a little bit of money? Have they changed for you?

McCarthy: It's a little different. You find yourself buying more stupid stuff. Last year, I had a little bit of that. Coming through the Minors, you can't always afford the things you want to buy for your family. Now, I can get my sister and parents something nicer.

MLB.com: Do you think the holidays will change once you have children and a family of your own?

McCarthy: I would like to keep it that same way as my family has it now. It's one of the really good feelings I get, so I probably would like to do something similar. Maybe it won't be as strict on Christmas morning as my mom has it and more like my dad, where it's organized but not all that serious.

MLB.com: Are you a big holiday sort of person?

McCarthy: Thanksgiving, not so much. Christmas, I'm a big fan. My family all gets together, and that's always a lot of fun. It's just a really relaxing time, so I always enjoy Christmas.

MLB.com: Finally, here's our own little holiday tradition we started with Brian Anderson last year. Spell Hanukkah.

McCarthy: H-A-N-U-K-K-A-H.

MLB.com: There still seems to be a number of spellings for this particular holiday, and you've hit on one of them.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.