BRADENTON, Fla. — There are times when what goes down on the field, court or ice takes a back seat.
Saturday at LECOM Park, Danny Farquhar found himself in that odd scenario in an exhibition game against the Pirates when he ran in from the bullpen for his first action since suffering a brain hemorrhage during a game last April when he was with the White Sox.
Signed to a minor league contract this offseason by the Yankees, the 32-year-old right-hander retired one of the six batters he faced, gave up five runs, three hits and walked two in a third of an inning.
Yet when Aaron Boone took the ball from Farquhar, the crowd gave the pitcher an ovation, his family clapped from the seats behind the plate and he was greeted at the top of the third-base dugout by players and coaches providing a standing ovation.
That type of reception is usually reserved for a pitcher throwing a gem in the seventh or eighth inning — not for one who got spanked. Yet, Farquhar has delivered a bolt of feel good to the Yankees’ camp since the day he arrived.
Farquhar, who pitched briefly in the Yankees’ minor league system before being dealt to the Mariners in the 2012 trade that brought Ichiro Suzuki to The Bronx, picked a team with a loaded bullpen to begin a comeback from a frightening medical situation.
If everyone stays healthy, Farquhar, 32, will likely land in the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpen — if the Yankees decide to keep him.
“It just felt like for better or worse they had my back,’’ Farquhar said of his teammates greeting him with fist bumps, high-fives and handshakes during the Pirates’ 8-7 win. “I have never been high-fived that much giving up five runs.’’
Boone said it was great to see the reception from Farquhar’s teammates.
“It was a cool moment. I found myself a little more emotional than I even thought. Even though it didn’t go great, I think he really appreciated how special it was to be back on the mound,’’ Boone said.
Farquhar’s heart-warming story is certainly remarkable in many ways. That was easy to see if you looked in the stands and the Yankees dugout. Yet, pitchers are judged on how they pitch and Farquhar didn’t pitch well.
“Obviously the results weren’t great,’’ he said.
Scouts are taught to eliminate emotions when evaluating players, and a few in attendance separated what they saw from what they had to feel.
“His stuff was a little short. More so his command on his fastball and slider and it hurt him,’’ a scout said.
Asked about when results will matter, Farquhar was realistic.
“Obviously they matter right now. I didn’t pitch good,’’ Farquhar said.
Farquhar knew how long the odds of making it back to the big leagues — where he has pitched in 253 games with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays and White Sox — would be no matter what team he signed with. That it was the Yankees with their deep pen didn’t dampen his enthusiasm to attempt the improbable.
“I was a Yankee in the past and I loved my time,’’ said Farquhar, who pitched in seven minor league games in the Yankees’ system seven years ago. “I thought they were an incredible organization.’’
Jogging from the bullpen to the mound to start the bottom of the fourth, Farquhar wondered what it was going to be like and quickly said it felt normal, which meant 60 feet, 6 inches from rubber to plate with a real hitter in the box.
“I felt like I was a baseball player again,’’ he said.