SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s safe to say Danny Farquhar’s last four Thanksgiving dinners have tasted better than any from before, and it has nothing to do with a secret turkey recipe.
Everything in Farquhar’s life tastes better and is appreciated more after a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm knocked him down and out in the White Sox’ dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field in April 2018.
The ordeal effectively ended the right-handed reliever’s pitching career at age 31, but 3½ years later, Farquhar is building toward his goal of becoming a major-league pitching coach. The path is paved with lower pay, more bus rides and everything else that falls below the upscale major-league norms, but Farquhar is enjoying every minute of the minor-league coaching life.
“I got to play for 12 seasons [as a pro], and man, it went by in a flash,” he told the Sun-Times before a recent Arizona Fall League game he coached in Scottsdale. “After my accident, I don’t take any days for granted. You don’t know when you’re going to wake up and find that things were taken from you. So I come to the park each day with a positive attitude and treat each day like it’s my last.”
After pitching one inning against the Astros that scary night on the South Side, Farquhar collapsed and woke up a few days later in the intensive-care unit at Rush University Medical Center with dozens of staples in his head. When his wife, Lexie, walked him to a bathroom mirror, Farquhar saw tubes protruding where neurosurgeon Demetrius Lopes had cut through bone to relieve life-threatening swelling in his brain.
“What the heck happened?” Farquhar said.
To this day, he has no recollection of anything that happened past lining up for the national anthem before that game. Although he made a full physical recovery, when he attempted to pitch with the Yankees during 2019 spring training and in two Class A games, the left side of his brain affected the power on his right side, and his velocity topped out at 89 mph.
The Sox saw coaching potential, though, and brought Farquhar back as a minor-league instructor that year.
“While he was playing, he asked interesting questions,” said Chris Getz, the Sox’ assistant general manager over player development. “He was interested in development, organizational philosophy and the process of maturing to the major-league level. It wasn’t just about Danny Farquhar — it was about something deeper. His coaching career came quicker than he would have liked because of the head injury, but man, we’re lucky to have him. He has a bright future.”
Farquhar’s mother is from Venezuela, and he grew up speaking English and Spanish, “an absolutely huge asset” in coaching, as he puts it. He spent part of his youth in Venezuela and played winter ball there in 2012.
“There are culture barriers that some American players might not understand that I do,” Farquhar said. “It’s a different life that they grew up in. That’s another barrier that I kind of understand.”
In September, Farquhar completed his first full season as pitching coach at High-A Winston-Salem. Equipped with more know-ledge of pitch data than most of his teammates when he was playing, he brought something the Sox were looking for. Farquhar said he went through the learning process of experiencing each pitcher’s highs and lows. He learned how to treat each one differently, and it confirmed he’s doing what he wants to do.
“I love coaching,” he said. “I’m involved in every pitch, every decision about pitching mix, matching guys up. It’s like a puzzle. You get to teach guys to get better, watch them succeed and bring them into the [major-league] game.”
As pitching coach of the Glendale Desert Dogs during the just-completed Fall League, Farquhar had Sox prospects Johan Dominguez, Caleb Freeman, McKinley Moore and J.B. Olson on his staff.
“And on top of it, I got to peek into what other organizations are teaching their guys,” he said.
He also translated interviews for Spanish-speaking players. Lexie is ultra-supportive and takes their three young children wherever Farquhar’s coaching pursuits take him.
“They travel with me around the country, and it makes each day so much better not having to leave my family for eight months of the year,” Farquhar said. “She loves traveling — she’s the first one to get in the car and just go.” Farquhar, who had a 3.95 ERA with a 10-15 record and 15 saves over seven major-league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays and Sox, is jumping in and saying, ‘Let’s go’ to a second career he seemed destined for.
“Even when I was playing, I was coaching my teammates,” he said.
Said Getz: “He checks a lot of boxes. . . . He has already had a positive impact on a lot of our pitchers. He’s a pitching coach we know is going to do a lot in this game.”
And a guy who counts his blessings — and not just at Thanksgiving.
“I know how fortunate I was to have that medical staff get me to Rush Hospital as quickly as they did,” Farquhar said.
“I just enjoy the little moments and not stressing over the little things that in the grand scheme of things aren’t going to be a big deal. Just enjoy it.”