Danny Farquhar takes next step in comeback, throws bullpen session for Yankees

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Friday, February 15, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- As Danny Farquhar walked toward the lone podium at the front of the conference room at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday, he let out an excited exclamation.

"This is cool."

Much like he has done often during this first week of spring training with the New York Yankees, the pitcher, who turns 32 on Sunday, paused to soak in his latest experience.

Just last April, Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm.

His reflections didn't end there. Just after taking his seat before a mostly-full room of reporters, he thought about the many directions this wholly unexpected, nearly yearlong journey has taken him.

"Just to think 10 months ago that I would be here, you don't know," Farquhar said, smiling. "I am extraordinarily just ... thankful."

On April 20, Farquhar was pitching for the Chicago White Sox when he made a relief appearance in the sixth inning of a game against the Houston Astros. Once he got out of the inning, Farquhar went into the White Sox's dugout, where he complained of head pain and collapsed.

Immediately, he was taken to Chicago's Rush Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an aneurysm.

Seventeen days later, doctors released Farquhar and told him he'd pitch again.

On Friday, Farquhar took a massive step toward that goal when he threw his first big-league bullpen session since then. In the months that followed his hospital discharge, he had pitched to friends back home in Southern California -- they didn't swing; they only stood in the batter's box -- and worked out.

There were no batters during his bullpen appearance Friday, only nearby coaches and teammates, and a slew of cameras off to the side watching his every move.

After 27 pitches that included a mix of fastballs and breaking pitches, Farquhar's day was done.

"My next goal is a live [batting practice] and actually facing a batter. I can't wait to see what that feels like again," Farquhar said. "But just to see the feedback, because a hitter will always let you know what your stuff is. If it's not very good, they're going to hit it very hard. So I'm curious to have that feedback."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who watched closely when Farquhar's hospitalization made news, is optimistic the feedback will be more favorable than not.

"It's important to not get lost that this is a guy that can pitch, too," Boone said. "It's really neat that he gets to continue his career and continue fulfilling a dream of being a major leaguer. We're excited to have him and he's already brought something to us, just from the energy that he brings to the park every day."

Although the Yankees signed Farquhar to only a minor-league contract last month, Boone believes he still has a chance to find himself in the Bronx this season.

"He'll certainly have some opportunities, and the first thing for him is obviously getting through a full spring training with getting back, just in that everyday grind of being a ballplayer and being a big-league pitcher," Boone said.

"We feel like he could absolutely help us this year."

Whenever Farquhar toes a pitching mound this spring, he'll be wearing a custom-made, MLB-approved protective cap that's lined with Kevlar and foam. Yankees doctors and trainers met with Farquhar and representatives from Unequal Technologies at Steinbrenner Field on Monday to discuss the cap's specifics. Two days after that meeting, the cap was in Farquhar's locker.

The six-ounce product is fitted for the four-ounce New Era cap used by MLB, Unequal CEO Rob Vito told ESPN's Outside the Lines on Thursday. There is also an extra piece of padding that hangs off the bottom of the protective cap, ultimately sitting next to Farquhar's left eye and covering the area where his surgical scar is.

After some initial uneasiness about the way it sat on his head earlier in the week, Farquhar said it ultimately felt no different than a regular baseball cap while he was pitching.

"It didn't feel anything crazy," Farquhar said. "So I'd be curious to see if one day MLB mandates it for all pitchers, just for extra protection."

A baseball journeyman who had a month-long stint in the Yankees organization in 2012 just before getting dealt to Seattle for Ichiro Suzuki, Farquhar contends he has no fear nor any trepidation about pitching again.

"I haven't had any hurdles to jump, but I'm sure those hurdles will come," Farquhar said. "I think I've had enough hurdles in my career that another one isn't going to bother me too much."