Putting on pinstripes 'surreal' for McCutchen

Newly acquired outfielder bats leadoff in first game with Yankees

September 1st, 2018

NEW YORK -- Upon learning that he was joining the Yankees for their postseason push, harbored one major concern. Once he adhered to the organization's famed grooming policy, how would his 9-month-old son, Steel, react to seeing his father without a well-crafted beard?

"I held him the whole time while I was cutting it," McCutchen said. "I didn't know if he was going to cry or what, so I just cut it and held him. He stared at me for about five minutes and touched all over my face. He seemed to be OK with it. It'll take a little bit of getting used to."

The clean-shaven McCutchen reported for his first afternoon at the new office Saturday, donning uniform No. 26 and finding his name atop the lineup card. Leading off and playing right field, the 31-year-old McCutchen said it was "surreal" to put on the pinstripes. He participated in the customary roll call, then went hitless in three at-bats with a hit-by-pitch in New York's 2-1 win over the Tigers.

"It was a great day all around," McCutchen said. "I tried to just let it sink all in, being in the clubhouse and playing the game. I didn't have the game that I wanted to have personally for it being my first one, but we got the win and that's what's most important. All around, it was a good day. It's a day I'm not going to forget, for sure."

The Yankees once believed they would have both and back from injuries by this time, but their respective timetables have been delayed. McCutchen cleared waivers last week, at which time general manager Brian Cashman said he contacted Giants counterpart Bobby Evans to see if the clubs could work out the financials and agree upon players.

McCutchen said he was with his wife, Maria, at a Starbucks in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon, enjoying an off-day, when he received a call from the Giants alerting him that a trade was in the works.

"I automatically didn't want my coffee right away," McCutchen said. "My stomach started turning a little bit, then at that point it was just waiting ... waiting for a phone call."

The deal was consummated Friday, with New York sending two prospects -- infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-hander Juan De Paula -- to the Giants. The Giants agreed to kick in $1.2 million of McCutchen's remaining salary, approximately $2.45 million.

"Clearly he was a player that, given our circumstances, we targeted," Cashman said. "We were hopeful that there was some way we could find a way to match up with them where we don't trip up our luxury tax. It was a long week but I'm glad it resolved the way it did. Hopefully it will help us."

McCutchen hit .255/.357/.415 with 15 homers and 55 RBIs in 130 games for San Francisco, numbers that could see a boost from Yankee Stadium. Manager Aaron Boone said he sketched out the lineup after Friday's 7-5 win over the Tigers, opting to hit McCutchen first.

"He's hit some leadoff obviously with the Giants," Boone said. "He's got on base a lot and he's gotten on base at a little higher clip even against lefties, but he's done a good job against both lefties and righties."

With Judge still unable to swing a bat, McCutchen is expected to be an everyday presence, though he said he would be fine with transitioning to part-time duty when Judge returns. More than anything, McCutchen is excited about the prospect of again playing meaningful games into October.

"I'm ready to get started," McCutchen said. "The goal is making it past the playoffs and making it to the World Series and trying to win it. This franchise knows how to do that. They know what it's about."