PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a rough 2016 season, which led to a lot of speculation during the course of the winter months that the 30-year-old would be traded.
While professional athletes like to tell you that they “tune out the outside noise,” that’s not always the case.
In a letter to Pirates fans that was published on the Players’ Tribune, McCutchen details how he spent much of the offseason wondering, the same as the fans, whether or not he would still be in the Steel City come Opening Day.
WEB EXTRA: Andrew McCutchen Speaks Out At Spring Training —
From the piece:
“I’m not gonna lie. I Googled my own name more than a few times this off-season to see if there was any news. It was hard not to when just about every conversation I had with friends, family and even strangers started with them asking me, “So, what’s the latest?
“It’s always the things that haven’t happened yet that scare us the most. The fear of the unknown. And I honestly didn’t know where I was going to play baseball in 2017. There was no communication between the front office and me during the off-season … but that’s normal. Players aren’t consulted in trade talks. That’s not how the business works.”
LISTEN: Andrew McCutchen telling reporters he’s surprised by happy to still be a Pirate
Aside from insight into how McCutchen was dealing with being in various trade rumors throughout the offseason, McCutchen expressed one sentiment above all others in the letter: the love that he has for the city of Pittsburgh.
“All I knew was that I wanted to keep playing in Pittsburgh. I wanted to finish what I had started here. I knew that I hadn’t played up to my capability last season, and that I had to use this offseason to get better. And I wasn’t going to let rumors distract me from doing that. I wasn’t going to get caught up in all the noise. As far as I’m concerned, until that phone rings and I’m told otherwise, I’m a Pittsburgh Pirate for life.”
During an interview with 93-7 The Fan, McCutchen said he is happy to be with the Pirates.
“If you’d have asked me that you know, right when the meetings probably started up, probably yeah I was pretty surprised. Since the off-season’s progressed, things have died down, so. I’m just happy to be here,” he said.
McCutchen goes into further detail about how he came to view Pittsburgh as home, even walking to the ballpark some game days over Roberto Clemente Bridge after breaking in with the big club in 2009.
LISTEN: Andrew McCutchen telling reporters it’s tough to give up the center field spot because he knows he can still play the position.
He also details how he felt when he heard that he would be moving to right field this year for Starling Marte to take over in center.
McCutchen says he has worked hard this offseason because the Pirates need him to be the “best right fielder in baseball this season.”
“That’s one of the first times that’s something I wanted to go against. It wasn’t something that I was ready for or I wanted to do, but as I keep saying it, I’m talking about myself. I just had to not be as selfish and, you know, just accept that’s what I have to do,” he said.
LISTEN: Andrew McCutchen telling reporters he’s still not crazy about playing in Right Field
McCutchen also says at first, he didn’t want to move to right field.
“It’s more difficult because I feel like I could still play it. I don’t’ feel like I’m at the end of my career. People like to say ‘Torii Hunter moved to right,’ also Torii Hunter is 35 years old, so at the same time I’m 30 and I feel like I could still play it and play it where I feel comfortable. I wasn’t that comfortable last year. I had to play a little shallower and I did pay for that, but at the same time I know that’s on me,” he said. “That’s more of the difficult part, knowing that I could still play [center field], but I also know that we have someone like Marte who can play even better or just as good out there and, you know, get the job done.”
The whole piece is worth a read if you’ve got the time as it’s a pretty cool insight into just how much McCutchen enjoys being in Pittsburgh and being a part of the Pirates franchise.
LISTEN: Andrew McCutchen telling reporters he accepts they are putting a quality player in center field
The Pirates open Spring Training play Feb. 25 against Baltimore.