Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen stands on second base after driving in a run with a double off Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton in the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
August 03, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is sitting Andrew McCutchen for three straight days.

McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, says he's OK with the decision even if he doesn't agree with it. The outfielder sat out Pittsburgh's victory Tuesday night over Atlanta and will not be in the lineup the next two nights because of a season-long slump.

''I have to first address myself before I can think about addressing anything else,'' McCutchen told The Associated Press. ''I know if I was going out and playing the best ball that I know I can play that I wouldn't be in this position.

''They wouldn't be in the position of having to make those decisions, either.''

McCutchen, a five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger, hit .298 in his first seven seasons with Pittsburgh. In 97 games this year, he has a .241 average and is on pace for a career high in strikeouts.

After watching McCutchen go 1 for 12 in a three-game series last weekend at Milwaukee, Hurdle called McCutchen into his office Sunday to tell him that he would not be in the lineup for a three-game series against the Braves.

''He's tried a lot of things,'' Hurdle said in his pre-game talk with reporters. ''This man's fought, shown up, done early work, late work, side work, video work. In situations like this where I've seen it happen with good players, you just unplug 'em. The manager's got to do it. I'm just asking him to sign off on it.

''He obviously has a lot of fight in him and wants to continue. But it's like hitting refresh button.''

Unless a game against the Braves goes extra innings, Hurdle wants to give McCutchen four straight days of rest. The Pirates were off on Monday.

''That's the tough pill to swallow for me personally,'' McCutchen told The AP. ''Wanting to be in the lineup and them feeling that this would be a good time for me to unwind, to chill, to get my head right - the competitive side of me is like, `No, I'm good. I'm fine. I'm going to perform and do my job.'

''They're like, `For your own sake, this is what we feel.' "

Matt Joyce was in left field for the second straight night. Starling Marte was in center field, Gregory Polanco in right.

McCutchen says it was tough accepting the trades that shipped out Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh's opening day starter, to Toronto for Drew Hutchison and closer Mark Melancon to Washington for Felipe Rivero and a prospect.

The Pirates began Wednesday three games out in the NL wild-card standings. They've been to the playoffs the last three years, so McCutchen didn't necessarily want to make big roster changes at the trade deadline.

''You're going to feel one way about certain things because you have teammates, you have friends and you hate to lose anybody,'' he said. ''Hate to see anybody go. Those are your brothers.''

McCutchen insisted that he trusts the Pirates' front office to keep the club competitive.

''Understanding the business, understanding that we do have - performing - and they have a job as well,'' he said. ''That's the main thing, to give us the team to produce. Just as it's hard for us to understand what they do, I'm sure it's vice versa with them.''

Hurdle hopes McCutchen will benefit from the time off. He plans to put him back in the lineup Friday at home against Cincinnati.

''I don't know what it feels like to have the resume he has and go through the challenges he's had this year,'' Hurdle said. ''What I shared with him is, `I want to look you in the eyes and do what I can do just to help you out. Not to make it easier, not to make it softer. I can't do that. But let's this because we have tried just about everything else.' "

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