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Farquhar makes emotional return to mound

Righty faces 6 batters in first outing since brain hemorrhage
@BryanHoch
March 2, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Danny Farquhar 's teammates stood at the top step of their dugout and applauded fervently. The results may not have been what they envisioned, but they had all witnessed a milestone worthy of appreciation, another step forward in the hurler's inspirational quest to return to a big

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Danny Farquhar 's teammates stood at the top step of their dugout and applauded fervently. The results may not have been what they envisioned, but they had all witnessed a milestone worthy of appreciation, another step forward in the hurler's inspirational quest to return to a big league mound.

Farquhar pitched to six batters and recorded one out in the Yankees' 8-7 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates on Saturday at LECOM Park, his first action in a game since suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm last April.

"I felt great out there. I was happy to be back on the mound," Farquhar said. "Obviously the results weren't great, but I'd call it a good day. It was nice to have that support. I've never been high-fived so much giving up five runs in my career."

With his wife, Lexie, and their three children in attendance, Farquhar entered for the fourth inning in relief of starter Luis Cessa. Josh Bell belted a long double to left-center field, and Melky Cabrera lined out to right field. Erik Gonzalez walked, and two runs came home on a Kevin Kramer single that included a throwing error by catcher Austin Romine.

Kramer stole third base and Farquhar issued a free pass to Ke'Bryan Hayes -- the 22-year-old son of former Yankee Charlie Hayes -- before a run-scoring Steven Baron single got past shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, drawing manager Aaron Boone to the mound for a pitching change.

As Boone reached for the baseball, he said that he told Farquhar, "Onward and upward."

"I found myself a little more emotional than I even thought, watching him," Boone said. "I was more nervous, more anxious, all those things, wanting him to do so well. Even though it didn't go great, I think he really appreciated how special it was for him to be back out on that mound."

The last time that Farquhar faced hitters under similar conditions, he was a member of the White Sox. Pitching against the Astros on April 20, Farquhar recorded two outs to end the top half of the sixth inning at Chicago's Guaranteed Rate Field, then collapsed in the home dugout.

Farquhar received treatment from medical personnel and emergency responders, then arrived at Rush University Medical Center, where he spent more than two weeks in intensive care. Farquhar returned to the ballpark three times after his May 7 discharge, tossing a ceremonial first pitch on June 1.

"We all know the story. That's some crazy stuff going on," Romine said. "To be able to fight your way back onto a big league mound in a Spring Training game, I can only imagine what he's gone through and what his family has gone through. It's a tribute to his work ethic and his character."

Tugging his custom protective cap toward his ears, Farquhar paced nervously in the bullpen as he waited to make his jog across the left-field turf. As he did, Farquhar said that he could hear the cheers from his mother, Beatriz, and his 7-year-old daughter, Madison, part of a group of 13 friends and family members on hand.

"I was just wondering what everything was going to feel like," Farquhar said. "It felt normal. It felt like I was a baseball player again."

Romine clapped a hand on Farquhar's shoulder, then discussed the signs that they would use.

"I've never met a more happy guy in my life to be playing baseball," Romine said. "He was fun to catch, fun to work with. He's a positive human being. I've got nothing but respect and admiration for what he's done."

The 32-year-old Farquhar has compiled a 3.93 ERA in 253 appearances across seven big league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays and White Sox from 2011-18. He likened Saturday's outing to his first time playing golf, when he was just happy to be on the course, but expects that his intensity will grow as he continues to play in games.

"I'm trying to take little baby steps, but of course you want to get back on a big-league field in a Major League game," Farquhar said. "Yeah, I imagine that a lot, but I try to not focus on the big picture too much. Just little baby steps first."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.