BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) – Day 4 of Pirates Spring Training was also the first day of full workouts with all players present.
While the highlights focused on seeing Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco swing bats in public for the first time since last fall, THE story was McCutchen’s meeting with the media before workouts that echoed much of what he wrote in The Player’s Tribune and published just minutes before speaking.
While thoughts on Cutch will be saved for a later column, here are some of the highlights, if you haven’t heard or read them already:
- How did the off-season trade rumors affect him?
“It didn’t affect me in any way negative. I understand that all that’s a part of the business, so I just have to accept that and know that that’s part of it, that’s what comes with it, especially for people that are in in my position.”
- Was the news of the move to RF difficult?
“At first it was, because at one point it was my call when I was ready to go to right field, but it was more of a ‘this is something that you have to do.’ It wasn’t an ask, it was more of a say that I have to move there, so that was something that I wanted to go against. It wasn’t something that I was ready for or that I wanted to do, but as I keep saying that, I’m talking about myself. So I have to not be as selfish, and accept that that’s what I have to do and move over to right”
- Why did it become the team’s call?
“The betterment of the team. Statcast, I guess numbers, say I move better to my right than left, and Marte, I guess his numbers are pretty even, so they wanted to use those as a plus, and put those together and say ‘That will make the outfield better.’”
- What will the adjustment to right field be like?
“It’s not an adjustment at all. It’s a little easier. It’s right field, so the responsibility of having to cover more ground lessens. So being in right should be a breeze. Center field you got a lot to do. You gotta cover left and right. You got a lot more on your plate in center.”
- Did the front office talk to him about the rumors that were swirling?
“I’ve talked to upper management, after it was all over, after the winter meetings. I talked to those guys, and they expressed how they felt and what they did.
- Was it disconcerting to not be in touch with the team during that period?
“It’s not, because no one talks to their players around that time, that’s not their job. Their job is to try and build a team. They have a job to do so, with the social media that’s out there now, you know you’re going to see that stuff first before you hear anything. There are so many outlets now, you’re going to hear before you may hear it from upper management.”
- How did the trade rumors affect his family?
“Pittsburgh is my home, so regardless of the outcome, we’re always going to be in Pittsburgh. Our home’s always going to be there.”
That final, poignant quote will be the jumping off point for the upcoming column on McCutchen, but on to other notes from the first full squad workout.
- As Clint Hurdle walked out to Field #1 for warm-ups, the huddle of his assistant coaches scattered like roaches when the kitchen light is turned on. Mic’d up for ROOT Sports, Hurdle stood lonely for only a moment, as he spotted NBC Sports play-by-play legend and noted Pirates’ fan Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick. The two chatted for a few minutes, Emrick reminding the manager that he’ll have his two teams, the Penguins and Red Wings, for Sunday’s NBC game at 3pm.
- Speaking of broadcasting legends, Steve Blass showed up in uniform as well, to do some work as a special instructor alongside John Candelaria, Manny Sanguillen, and Omar Moreno.
- McCutchen, Marte, David Freese, & Jordy Mercer took batting practice together. Other groupings on Field #1were Polanco, Josh Harrisson, and John Jaso, Adam Frazier, Phil Gosselin, & Eury Perez, and Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Elias Diaz, & Alen Hanson.
- While taking BP, every time Cervelli would flare a line drive to the right, he would yell out “CUTCH!” as the Bucs’ new right fielder shagged balls.
- Marte & Polanco flashed their usual hard contact, but the long drive of the day was actually by Gosselin, who put a ball on the roof of the clubhouse in distant left-center.
- Due to Hurricane Cutch, bullpen sessions flew somewhat under the radar, as the arms on the mound were of the depth variety, including Trevor Williams, Pat Light, Edgar Santana, Nick Kingham, Dovydas Neverauskas, Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadley, among others.
- Today’s workouts were done and over with before noon, but Saturday is a relatively longer session, with workouts running until almost 1 p.m. before a Pep Rally at 5pm in Downtown Bradenton.
A SPECIAL EDITION OF BUCCOTALK WILL START AT 9 A.M. SATURDAY MORNING, LIVE FROM THE TOWER BETWEEN THE FOUR MAIN FIELDS OF PIRATE CITY. GUESTS WILL INCLUDE PITCHING COACH RAY SEARAGE, FIRST BASE COACH/BASERUNNING COORDINATOR KIMERA BARTEE, SHORTSTOP JORDY MERCER, AND SECOND BASEMAN JOSH HARRISON.