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'McCatchen' strikes again; Hurdle in awe

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- A day after seeing Andrew "McCatchen" make a defensive gem in center field, his manager had a question of his own for the media.

"Did anybody call him McCatchen yesterday?" Clint Hurdle asked prior to Sunday's finale vs. the Cubs. "Instead of McCutchen?"

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CHICAGO -- A day after seeing Andrew "McCatchen" make a defensive gem in center field, his manager had a question of his own for the media.

"Did anybody call him McCatchen yesterday?" Clint Hurdle asked prior to Sunday's finale vs. the Cubs. "Instead of McCutchen?"

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No one could argue he wouldn't be deserving of the moniker.

It didn't take long for a ball to be hit to Andrew McCutchen, as Ben Zobrist smacked a pitch to left-center on the very first at-bat of the game.

McCutchen was ready, though, reading the situation and springing into action.

"They always say, you know you're ready from pitch one," McCutchen said. "You're familiar with how your pitcher pitches, you're familiar with the guy at the plate. So you know how he swings, what he's capable of doing. ... I know all that prior to even going after the ball."

So maybe it was the prep work that allowed him to dive into position for the catch.

Hurdle, who has been with the team since 2011, called it the best catch he'd seen by the outfielder.

"I only have one other catch, I mean he's got a bunch of 'em, but one that's just, 'Bam,'" Hurdle said. "He made a sliding catch at Citi Field. ... He went forever to go get a ball, sliding, laying out, and that for me has been the signature catch when I think of him defensively. "

Video: PIT@NYM: McCutchen makes an incredible sliding catch

At least until Saturday.

"That one yesterday," Hurdle continued, gesturing with his hands to show that it had slid into first, "just kind of went, 'Boop.'"

• Speaking of defense ...

While Josh Bell affected Saturday's game with his bat, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, he also showed some of the growth he's made in other areas.

After showing off his mobility early on when he leaped to snag a ground ball that was ultimately ruled foul, the first baseman showcased some flexibility. With one on and one out in the seventh and the Pirates up two, Willson Contreras hit a ground ball to David Freese, whose throw back to first pulled Bell off the bag.

However, Bell was able to stretch, just barely keeping his right foot on the bag as the ball hit his glove -- "I've just got to stay on long enough for the umpire to make the call," he would later say -- getting the out and keeping a potential game-tying run from reaching base.

"You know, when he first started, it might not have been [a play he would've made]," Hurdle said. "He's learning in all different areas, as far as which foot to cover the base with, how to work off the base to lay out to his right, to his left. ... He's made very strong improvements across the board defensively."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Pirates on Sunday.

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