Ask anyone nine months ago if Danny Farquhar would not only be back on a pitcher’s mound today, but would sign a minor league deal this season with the New York Yankees, that’s likely how they would have responded.
It’s a comeback story straight out of Hollywood. Farquhar’s life continues to write a script we haven’t seen before.
Last week, there was the former White Sox pitcher, whose life nearly ended at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 20 last year when he suffered a brain hemorrhage after pitching an inning of relief, walking into a local New York hospital to get his Yankees physical.
"They put me through everything possible. I saw three or four doctors. Got a lot of scans, got MRIs on my shoulder, my elbow," Farquhar said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I knew I was going to pass, but it’s nice to have proof that I’m not the only one who believes that I can pass a physical."
Many teams reached out to Farquhar: "Probably half the league wanted to see my medicals," he said. "It was an awesome process sorting through the teams and picking one. It’s extraordinarily exciting."
One of the teams interested was the White Sox, who wanted to have him back.
"The White Sox gave me basically the same offer as the Yankees did. The White Sox said they had my medicals the whole time through. They liked me," Farquhar said.
So why did he choose the Yankees?
"There were a lot of factors. It wasn’t like one thing that stands out more than anything. Maybe opportunity. I feel like the Yankees are a win-now organization. They’ll go with the best arm. I know the White Sox are still in the rebuild. I’m getting a little bit older for the rebuild. I’ll be 32 in February. I just felt like the Yankees were my best opportunity," Farquhar said.
The time away from the game has allowed Farquhar’s body to heal. Not just his head, which still has some sensitivity on the left side of his forehead from nerves that were cut during surgery, but also his arm, which has reached velocities he’s never seen before.
"I got to train full go without the strain of pitching, without the stress of in-season results," Farquhar explained. "I’ve never hit 90 (mph) in one of those turf mounds, indoor bullpens, no batter situations, and I hit 90 a couple times. That’s a record that I set."
While throwing a three-ounce ball, Farquhar said he hit 107 mph.
"I know (Michael) Kopech hit 110 with his three-ounce ball a couple years back, and that was a big deal on social media. I was trying to catch him, but I never got an opportunity."
When Farquhar was discharged from Rush University Medical Center on May 7, his doctors said they expected him to eventually make a full recovery and that he could pitch again. But in the major leagues? As inconceivable as that might have sounded back then, it made perfectly logical sense to Farquhar, who has an iron will that burns deep inside him.
This seven-year journeyman with a wife and three young children has fought for every spot he’s ever had on a major league roster. He continued to fight soon after the surgery while still in the danger zone in intensive care.
"I was actually in the ICU in Chicago very upset when I found out they put me on the DL. Funny because there were tubes coming out of my head and staples holding pieces of my skull together," Farquhar said. "I was like, ‘They put me on the DL? Why would they put me on the DL? I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.’ So there was never a doubt in my mind. Maybe I’m naive. That played to my advantage that I’ll be back."
He faces some stiff competition if he hopes to make the major league roster on Opening Day. The Yankees have added relievers Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino to an already stacked bullpen that includes All Stars Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.
"I just have to go out and prove to people that I belong in the big leagues, and that’s my goal again this spring," Farquhar said. "I’m going to give it my best shot. My wife is my No. 1 supporter. She believes in me, and she thinks I’m going to have one of my best seasons."
And Hollywood, if you’re watching, Farquhar has an ultimate dream for his baseball career. It involves a return to Chicago, the place where his life nearly ended, to create a moment that would truly mark a new beginning.
"Pitching at Guaranteed Rate Field in a Yankee uniform against my old teammates on the White Sox, that would be a dream come true, and I can’t wait for that to happen," Farquhar said. "Because it was the scene where my aneurysm ruptured. It’s almost like a redemption to get back out there and have a better day than that one."
The Yankees visit the White Sox for a four-game series from June 13 to 16. Is he a long shot to make the big league club and be in uniform for that series? Maybe. But if we’ve learned anything about Danny Farquhar, never count him out.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.