After an offseason of trade rumors and speculation, Andrew McCutchen still is with the Pittsburgh Pirates – just not in center field.
Following a season in which he struggled offensively and saw a dip in his defensive metrics, McCutchen is moving to right field (with Starling Marte shifting from left to center, and Gregory Polanco going from right to left).
Considering he has played nowhere except center field during his eight-season MLB career – he won a Gold Glove in 2012 when he was named the NL MVP – McCutchen admittedly isn’t thrilled about the change. And he revealed Friday that he wasn’t consulted about the move.
“It was more, ‘This is something you have to do.’ It wasn’t an ask,” McCutchen told reporters, according to MLB.com. “It was more of [the team saying] that I have to move there and it’s for the betterment of the team.”
To his credit, McCutchen swallowed his pride and took one for the team. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, he detailed his inner struggle with the situation and why he eventually came to grips with the position change.
“I’ve always been the kind of guy who would do anything for his team. Anything I was asked to do in the name of winning, I would do it. But this time, my first reaction was, I don’t want to do this. I had just spent much of the 2016 season playing 10 feet shallower in centerfield because that’s what I had been asked to do. And I paid for it … big time.
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“I’m a competitor, and I was naturally skeptical about moving to right field. I mean, in my mind, centerfield is my spot. I’m the centerfielder. I always have been. And I was proud of that.
“But then we talked it out. I mean … it wasn’t pretty. There was grit, honesty — all of that. But at the end of the day, I was able to see the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is that we have a really talented, athletic outfielder in Starling Marte who can no doubt handle himself in centerfield.”
Seeing McCutchen in right field will take some time to get used to – but not as much time as seeing him in a different uniform would have.