Archer tips hat to Cutch by changing his number

August 10th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Chris Archer joined the Pirates, he changed his jersey number from 22 to 24 out of respect for the last man to wear 22 in Pittsburgh. After hearing about Archer's comments, said the respect goes both ways.

"It's definitely humbling to hear that from another player. It's something I don't take lightly," McCutchen said before facing his former team on Thursday at AT&T Park. "I really appreciate the words that he had. He didn't have to say that. Even if he didn't want to take my number he didn't have to go out of his way and say those things. Pretty special to hear that from a player of his caliber. Definitely gained even more respect than I already had for him."

During his introductory press conference at PNC Park, Archer said he thinks the Pirates will someday retire McCutchen's No. 22.

"He's done a lot of great things for this city on the field and off. He's what I aspire to be. I aspire to be that influential and that successful," Archer said last week. "That is his number."

McCutchen admitted he was surprised to see the Pirates trade for a starter with Archer's track record. The Pirates made a number of deals to upgrade their roster during their successful run from 2013-15, and they attempted to pull off a similarly shocking move for then-Rays starter in 2014. But McCutchen never saw them make a splash quite like they did last week, when they dealt for Archer and reliever .

"As far as getting Archer, I felt that that was a pretty big move for them. I said I don't know if we've ever really gotten an ace before, when I was there," McCutchen said. "Not only adding; adding an ace starter like Archer. I was like, that's a really bold, big move for the Pirates. When you saw that, it was like, dang.

"Everybody's like, good for them. They're making that push and they're not looking back. I said before, maybe this year's just a little different considering the past. There may have been opportunities where one move may have been made and they didn't make the move or whatever. They probably learned from it and said, 'All right, this time, we don't want to look back and say we didn't go for it with everything we had.' "

The Archer and Kela acquisitions were not just about this season, as both pitchers are under club control next year (and beyond, in Archer's case). But the Pirates are still alive in a crowded National League Wild Card race that also includes McCutchen's Giants. San Francisco began Thursday night one game below .500, trailing Pittsburgh by two games in the Wild Card race, but McCutchen is confident the Giants can make a late push.

"There's a sense of urgency, of course, but there isn't panic either. Everyone's just showing up," McCutchen said. "We know the job that we've got to do here. We've just got to go out there and do it."