Cutch keeps focus on fans, teammates

Amid trade rumors, slugger says Pittsburgh is 'somewhere I want to be'

June 7th, 2017

NEW YORK -- It's Sunday morning at Citi Field. Pirates outfielder is not celebrating the fact that he made his Major League debut eight years ago. Instead, McCutchen, 30, is relaxed, sitting by his locker and talking about his game.

McCutchen is the first to admit that he is off to a slow start, but he is showing signs of getting out of his funk. After Tuesday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Orioles, McCutchen is 14-for-38 (.368) while hitting safely in 10 of his past 11 games and raising his batting average to .231. In Sunday's win over the Mets, McCutchen went 3-for-5, including a three-run homer against left-hander Josh Smoker.

"When Andrew plays well, we play well," said Bucs manager Clint Hurdle.

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McCutchen thinks differently than his skipper. He said the Pirates are a team, and the players pick each other up. But McCutchen does understand that when he plays well, the team has a good chance of winning the game.

"At the same time, I don't feel like I'm the guy that needs to get going for the team to win," McCutchen said. "It's a little far-fetched, if you ask me. There are nine guys. They can all impact the game."

Getting off to a slow start isn't the only thing that is newsworthy -- there are those trade rumors. For most of the offseason, there was talk of McCutchen being dealt to the Nationals.

McCutchen said nothing to the media until PirateFest, which came after the Winter Meetings in December. He addressed the same subject again at the start of Spring Training.

By the time the season started, there was talk of McCutchen being dealt before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He isn't a free agent until 2018, but the Bucs could acquire valuable players if they want to trade him before he is free to sign with other teams.

Asked how much he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, McCutchen said, "I've never thought about anything else. This is the only uniform that I've ever worn. This is somewhere I want to be. I can't control the business side -- where I am or whatnot. I don't focus on that.

"I just focus on my team. I focus on the guys around me, because the more I try to focus on where I am going to be … 'Am I going to stay here?' -- the more I lose that time with my teammates and friends. … I try not to let my mind go there. I'm focusing on right now. Of course, this is where I want to be."

McCutchen credits his wife, Maria, and parents, Lorenzo and Petrina, for helping him keep a positive attitude as the trade rumors swirl.

All three of them told McCutchen to realize the game of baseball is business, and to go on the field and show people what he is capable of doing every single day. That advice leads to thinking about the fans.

"There could be kids who are watching me. They could care less about what I'm hitting, how I feel or the trade talks [that surround me]," McCutchen said. "They came to watch me play. They hope to have that one interaction with me, to just appreciate [what I've done on the field]. … That's something that could lead to a long-lasting impression on that person. You just never know it. Basically, I take the focus off myself, focus in on other people and just remember to smile and have fun."

McCutchen's future with the Pirates is unknown, but look for him to have a lasting impact in Pittsburgh.