PITTSBURGH -- During Andrew McCutchen's rise to stardom, baseball fans across the country came to know the Pirates' center fielder as simply "Cutch." When McCutchen runs out to center field at Bowman Field on Sunday for the MLB Little League Classic, he'll still be "Cutch" -- and his jersey will
PITTSBURGH -- During Andrew McCutchen's rise to stardom, baseball fans across the country came to know the Pirates' center fielder as simply "Cutch." When McCutchen runs out to center field at Bowman Field on Sunday for the MLB Little League Classic, he'll still be "Cutch" -- and his jersey will say the same.
• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are presenting the inaugural Players Weekend on Aug. 25-27, when the Pirates will face the Reds in Cincinnati wearing colorful, alternate uniforms. But the Bucs will get a head start on the rest of the league, donning those jerseys when they play the Cardinals on Aug. 20 in Williamsport, Pa., during the Little League World Series.
In addition to the unique and specially designed cleats, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, bats and other gear, players were given the opportunity to replace their last name with a nickname on the back of their customized uniforms.
For McCutchen, it wasn't much of a question.
"Just be Cutch. Everyone knows me by that," he said. "Everybody calls me Cutch anyway, so it's not like it's a surprise. Not like I'm coming up with this name nobody's ever heard of. Get to rock that, shorten the name up a little bit."
You won't see Gregory Polanco patrolling right field; it'll be "El Coffee." On the mound? Cole Train and Super Nova. Behind the plate, No. 29: Cisco. Those game-worn jerseys will be auctioned after Players Weekend, with the proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
The Pirates' Sunday night showdown with the Cardinals is bound to be a special occasion as it is. They'll play at Bowman Field, home of the Class A Williamsport Crosscutters in the New York-Penn League, in front of a crowd of Little League players and their families.
While the Pirates don't have many ties to the Little League World Series, a handful of them have memories in Williamsport. Shortstop Jordy Mercer played his second series as a professional baseball player in Williamsport. In 1991, Clint Hurdle managed the Eastern League's Williamsport Bills, a Mets affiliate.
The Bucs won't wear their typical home uniforms or even their Sunday, 1979 throwback jerseys. They'll sport specially designed caps and unique socks. During pregame workouts and postgame interviews, they can don T-shirts supporting a charity or cause of their choice.
"It's cool to kind of express the type of player you want to be so you can be unique. It's cool," McCutchen said. "It's a cool concept. MLB's done a pretty good job of letting us be ourselves."
While pitcher Chad Kuhl was showing off flashy yellow cleats with gold-plated bottoms in the clubhouse, McCutchen wasn't planning on anything too out of the ordinary.
"Trying to match, pretty much," he said, smiling.
The jerseys will have another wrinkle. Each one will feature a special sleeve patch showing the progression of a child growing into a Major Leaguer. Under that art is a white space where each player can honor someone who helped them along the path from Little League to the big leagues.
"Family," McCutchen said. "That's all it is, a big thanks to them. They'll see that."
Here's a list of nicknames that some Pirates are expected to sport on the back of their jerseys on Players Weekend:
• Andrew McCutchen: "CUTCH"
• Gerrit Cole: "COLE TRAIN"
• Starling Marte: "TATO"
• Gregory Polanco: "EL COFFEE"
• Josh Harrison: "J HAY"
• David Freese: "DAVEHUMAN"
• Josh Bell: "JB"
• Jameson Taillon: "J-MO"
• Felipe Rivero: "NIGHTMARE"
• Ivan Nova: "SUPER NOVA"
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.