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McCarthy treasures time with Big Hurt

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CHICAGO -- When Brandon McCarthy was a young baseball player, his hero was Frank Thomas.

"Big Hurt fan club when I was a kid. Anything Frank Thomas did, I was a part of then," said the D-backs pitcher, who originally came up with the White Sox in 2005. "His cleats, tennis shoes, his video game, fan club, all of that, I did as much as I could with Frank Thomas without meeting him I guess."

McCarthy not only got to meet the Big Hurt, but also played with him in '05. The right-handed hurler thought of those special moments when Thomas became a first-ballot Hall of Famer this past January.

"That will end up being one of the highlights of my career, especially since this is still a kid's game when you are growing up playing it," McCarthy said. "That was dream No. 1 for me: Can I play with Frank Thomas?

"To be able to do that and cross that one off in my first season is still an awesome accomplishment. It's something I'll be honored by throughout the rest of my life, knowing I got to play with Frank Thomas and fulfill a childhood dream.

"It's weird now because I still remember being a kid and that was your guy and that's when he was a young player and coming through and now he's been done for five years and now he's a Hall of Famer," McCarthy said. "Everybody keeps getting older and young players are now old players, but I think it's awesome for him. I picked a good one growing up at least."

Those McCarthy memories of '05 with the White Sox go deeper than the Big Hurt, as he was part of a World Series championship in his rookie campaign.

"You realize how unbelievably hard it is to win a World Series or even to get to that point," said McCarthy, who had a 4.03 ERA over 12 games and 10 starts in '05. "That first season, it just felt like this is a thing that happens. It was a cool experience to come up with and I still, the city, the fans, everybody was great to me.

"I enjoyed my team. It's weird now that it's that removed. A few years ago it felt like still a fresh thing and still here. Now, it feels like a career ago. It's kind of weird in that regard as you keep getting older."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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