This offseason, there were a lot of questions about Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. About where he’d be playing, his level of play, and whether he’d be traded. McCutchen knows, because he’s been asking himself those same questions.
In an article he wrote for The Players’ Tribune, McCutchen tried to answer those questions, and give some insight into how he operates as a baseball player. Here’s how he started 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?”
So if you were constantly refreshing Twitter and searching for new McCutchen trade rumors, you weren’t alone. Andrew McCutchen was doing it right along with you.
McCutchen was up front about how he (and the team) did in 2016.
Last season, we took a step backward. And I was a part of that. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t play very well last season. The only way I can explain it is that, for me, it was … a grind.
When a player like McCutchen describes baseball as a grind, you know something’s off. Nothing felt quite right for him in 2016 (he hit .256/.336/.430), so he spent the offseason ripping apart his hitting mechanics and putting them back together. And whenever he felt like he didn’t want to work out on a particular day, he used his 2016 performance as motivation.
Throughout the whole piece, McCutchen demonstrates how dedicated he is to being both a baseball player and a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He knows that baseball isn’t always about the individual player, but about the team and what it takes for them to win. He was resistant to moving from center field to right field (he said “I wasn’t ready for that”), but understood that the team was telling him that he’d be moving, not asking him.
And also, I’m not the boss. Remember, this is a business. And if upper management thinks putting me in rightfield gives this team the best chance to win — or if the front office still entertains the idea of trading me — that’s just business. It’s not personal. It comes with the territory.
McCutchen is moving to right field because it’s the best move for the team. It’s time for a younger player to get a chance, even though he believes he can still play center field defense. He’s looking at it as a challenge.
At the end of the day, nobody at this level has ever been worse off for being challenged. So that’s how I started to view the move. My father, one of my biggest supporters and greatest mentors, always preached: Be an athlete. Don’t be boxed in by a position or a particular skill set. An athlete can play anywhere and do anything. So be an athlete.
McCutchen wrote the article as a letter to Pirates fans, but it’s really a love letter to them and to the city. He loves Pittsburgh, and he doesn’t want to play anywhere else (even though he knows he may not have a choice). And because he loves the city and the fans, he’s being honest with them. You can’t ask for much more from your sports stars.
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