Still a Pirate, McCutchen calls move to right difficult
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Andrew McCutchen began what could be his final spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates by moving to a new position.
In late January, team management decided to move two-time Gold Glove winner Starling Marte from left field to center. McCutchen was switched to right field, a position he has never played in his professional career.
''It's difficult because I still feel like I can play,'' McCutchen said of center field before the Pirates' first full-squad spring training workout on Friday. ''I've always been the center fielder since my first game here. That's where I've always played.''
McCutchen, 30, said he'd always expected to be able to tell the team when he was ready to move out of center field. Instead, the decision was made for him.
''This was more like, `This is something you have to do.' It wasn't an ask,'' McCutchen said. ''It wasn't something I was ready for or something I wanted to do. But, as I'm saying that, I'm talking about myself. I had to not be as selfish and just accept that's what I have to do and move over to right.''
Hurdle said McCutchen might play a few games in center this summer when Marte needs time off.
''Andrew played some of the best center field he's ever played last season,'' Hurdle said. ''This is more about us having one of the elite defenders in the game and how do we best make our team better with the personnel we have.''
McCutchen admitted he's a bit surprised to still be wearing a Pirates uniform. He was the subject of trade talks in the offseason, including a deal with the Washington Nationals that nearly came to pass during the winter meetings in December.
''I talked with upper management after it was all over,'' McCutchen said. ''Well ... after the winter meetings. I wouldn't say it's all over. After the winter meetings were over, I talked to those guys and they expressed how they feel about what they did. That was that.''
With no assurance that he won't be dealt later this year, McCutchen is trying to focus on the upcoming season.
''We all have expectations,'' he said. ''Nine times out of 10, life never goes that way. The dream is to be in a Pirates uniform, playing center field until I can't play it anymore, winning countless World Series, MVPs and All-Stars and all that stuff. That's great - but, reality hits.''
McCutchen did not get in touch with either Marte or left fielder Gregory Polanco after the new setup was revealed. The three outfielders will huddle over the next few days before they leave Pirates camp to join their World Baseball Classic teams.
''I know we'll be able to sit down and he's going to be able to share some tips,'' Marte said. ''I'm very open and excited to receive whatever he has to offer.''
Marte will start in center field for the Dominican Republic, and Polanco will be one of his teammates. McCutchen will play for the United States, although his position has not yet been announced.
''I'm just happy to be playing,'' McCutchen said.