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Oakland Athletics' pitcher Brandon McCarthy (32), holds his head after being hit in the head with a line drive by Los Angeles Angels' Erick Aybar in the fourth inning of their baseball game in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. McCarthy walked off the field under his own power and was taken to a hospital for observation. (Doug Duran/Staff)

SEATTLE -- The A's flew to Seattle on Thursday for their biggest series of the season, but their minds were on something bigger still.

Their teammate, pitcher Brandon McCarthy, lay in a hospital bed recovering from surgery for an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture caused by a line drive that struck him in the head while he was pitching a day earlier.

"It was a quiet flight," A's reliever Sean Doolittle said. "I think a lot of guys were thinking about him. We're hoping that the more news we get, it's going to continue to be good news.

"As serious as we all thought it was, I think we all kind of underestimated how serious it was."

McCarthy was alert and resting in the critical care unit of a local hospital after the two-hour operation performed Wednesday night, a team release said.

The pitcher underwent a CT scan earlier in the evening that revealed the injuries. The purpose of the surgery was to relieve pressure on the brain.

An epidural hemorrhage often occurs when there's a tear in the middle meningeal artery, located just underneath the temporal bone of the skull.

"A fracture in the thin temporal bone can tear the artery, resulting in bleeding that can rapidly increase pressure on the brain," said Dr. Jeffrey Randall, chief of neurosurgical trauma at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. "If left unchecked, this could be very serious or fatal. But if recognized and treated quickly, the outlook is usually very good."


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A third CT scan performed Thursday "demonstrated improvement from his previous scan, and the epidural hemorrhage had subsided," according to the release.

McCarthy was transferred from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center on Wednesday night to an unidentified hospital, where the surgery was performed.

A's players were told about McCarthy's surgery in a team meeting aboard their charter plane before they flew to Seattle for a three-game series against the Mariners that starts Friday.

McCarthy was struck by a line drive off the bat of the Los Angeles Angels' Erick Aybar in the fourth inning of Wednesday afternoon's game. He fell to the ground immediately but rose to his feet after a few minutes and walked off the field under his own power.

A time frame for his recovery isn't known, but it's reasonable to assume McCarthy will miss the rest of the season.

Randall said that in uncomplicated cases, patients are often released from the hospital within a few days after surgery. He added that it could take a month or more before they're ready to begin strenuous activity, but that what McCarthy has is "not necessarily a career-threatening injury."

Sources confirmed to this newspaper that Triple-A starter Dan Straily flew with the team to Seattle, so he's a strong candidate to take McCarthy's place in the rotation Tuesday in Anaheim. Travis Blackley, who relieved McCarthy on Wednesday, also is an option.

Several A's players took to Twitter to express support for McCarthy and his wife, Amanda. Among them were outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Brett Anderson.

Amanda McCarthy tweeted Thursday afternoon: "Again thank you for the thoughts and prayers, they are not going unnoticed. He has the best fans."

A's general manager Billy Beane issued a statement that said, "Our first concern is Brandon's health, and we are heartened to learn he has shown progress in his recovery after surgery. We are glad to report he is stable, awake and alert. ... Brandon remains in everyone's thoughts as we wish him a speedy recovery."

For more on the A's, go to Joe Stiglich's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics and follow him at twitter.com/joestiglich.