By Matt Popchock

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Before his daily pregame sit-down with the local media, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle took time to speak with Jim Rome of CBS Sports Radio about the additions of Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher Tony Buck.

Hurdle also took time to give his own ringing endorsement of face-of-the-franchise center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who has emerged as a National League MVP candidate after a solid first half of the season set the stage for a one-man barrage of offense in the month of August.

“He’s the baddest guy in the league,” the Pirates’ third-year skipper told Rome Wednesday afternoon. “He can beat you with his glove, he can beat you with the legs, he can beat you with the bat, he can beat you by beating a ball down the first base line. He’s got multiple tools, multiple talents. He plays hard every single day, he leads by example.”

McCutchen, who made a third consecutive All-Star appearance in July, ranked fourth in the NL with a .322 batting average entering Wednesday, and he leads all position players in the league with a 6.7 WAR (wins above replacement). He ranks among the top ten in RBI, runs, hits, stolen bases, on-base percentage, OPS, and doubles.

This month he has hit over .420 with an OPS over 1.100, and he has registered 14 runs and 14 RBI in that span. Overall, McCutchen has hit .370 since the All-Star Break.

Click here to hear the full interview from earlier today, including Hurdle’s thoughts on whether pitchers such as Dodgers All-Star Clayton Kershaw, already a Cy Young Award favorite, should be included in league MVP races.

Hurdle, McCutchen, and the Pirates find themselves in a difficult battle with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds not only for playoff positioning, but also for NL Central Division supremacy. The Bucs are already on the precipice of their first winning season in 20 years.

The Pirates conclude their three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park Thursday at 7:05 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, with “Pirates Preview,” hosted by Dan Zangrilli and Kevin Orie, beginning at 5:40.

“The Jim Rome Show” can be heard weekdays 12:00-3:00 P.M. on CBS Sports Radio.


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