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McCutchen's huge June ends on painful note

Pirates outfielder fouls ball off ankle, finishes month batting .411
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen finished one of the best months of his career in appropriately dominant fashion, but he could not finish Friday's series-opening 13-5 loss to the Giants at PNC Park.

Facing reliever Cory Gearrin in the seventh inning, McCutchen fouled a 2-1 sinker off the protective shinguard covering his left ankle. He knelt in the batter's box, drawing assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano and manager Clint Hurdle out of the dugout, but remained in the game to finish the at-bat.

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PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen finished one of the best months of his career in appropriately dominant fashion, but he could not finish Friday's series-opening 13-5 loss to the Giants at PNC Park.

Facing reliever Cory Gearrin in the seventh inning, McCutchen fouled a 2-1 sinker off the protective shinguard covering his left ankle. He knelt in the batter's box, drawing assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano and manager Clint Hurdle out of the dugout, but remained in the game to finish the at-bat.

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Why risk further injury with the game so far out of reach?

"Because that's my at-bat. Nobody ain't going to take that from me regardless of what I did," McCutchen said. "If I can walk, I'm playing. ... Wasn't going to let anybody take that from me."

Two pitches later, sure enough, McCutchen knocked a single to left field. The hit extended his on-base streak to eight straight plate appearances.

McCutchen said his ankle still hurt after the game, but he expects to be in the lineup Saturday afternoon.

"It's just one of those areas that becomes very, very, very sensitive. Regardless of wearing shinguards or not, it still hurts," he said. "I'll be all right. I'll be in there tomorrow. If I can walk, I'm good, and I'm walking right now. I'll be in there tomorrow."

Gregory Polanco moved from right to center field. Jose Osuna remained in the game in right field after pinch-running for McCutchen. With the game well out of hand at that point, Hurdle said the Pirates planned to have McCutchen spend the last two innings on the bench anyway.

McCutchen went 2-for-2, walked and was hit by a pitch Friday night after going 3-for-3 with a walk in Thursday's 4-0 win over the Rays. He finished the month with a .411 average, his best month since he hit .446 with a 1.249 OPS in July 2012, and totaled six home runs, 23 RBIs and more walks (17) than strikeouts (12) in 26 games.

In the process, McCutchen improved his slash line from .223/.301/.404 to .283/.369/.495.

"I don't think it was the best [month], but it's up there. It was good," McCutchen said. "To see where I started from and see where I'm at now, it was a good month. But I'm not focused on my months. I'm just focused on my days. I'm going to continue to keep focusing day by day like I've been doing. Keep pushing for it, keep going from there."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen