In the Third Inning of Tonight’s Game, Andrew McCutchen Made a Nice Catch

Thrust back into action in centerfield thanks to Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension, Andrew McCutchen – the once and, now, future center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates – made a nice catch in the third inning of tonight’s game vs. the Cardinals.

Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake hit a stinging fly ball to the right field gap. McCutchen ranged over and…ok, you’ll need to see this one for yourself.

That was some serious fire from McCutchen, and it was a welcomed sight.

Yes, McCutchen said all the right things during the offseason hand-wringing over his move to right field. But even then there were times when he would let a little bit of that fire out.

“I have to be honest with you, Pittsburgh … No, I did not think it was that time.”

That quote, relaying to the reader how he felt about being told – not asked – that he would be moving to right field , was regarded as a throwaway quote at the time. Of course McCutchen felt that way. How could he not? Of course he bit his tongue and went about learning the new position (which he did, with aplomb).

This was nothing new. At the time.

With that catch shown above, Andrew McCutchen reminded everyone that he still does not think it was that time.

Motivation Comes In Mysterious Ways

When I first heard that Clint Hurdle was moving Andrew McCutchen back into centerfield, my initial thought was that the 2013 National League MVP would carry a refreshed motor. A new gear for the drive that never really left him. That, more than anything, could single handedly propel him to the rebound season all are expecting – and at the very least, hoping – to see in 2017.

Sure, the season is less than 20 games deep at this point. Yes, he has only been playing in right field for the span of two or three calendar months, if we are talking about real time put in to learn the intricacies of right field.

Surely, McCutchen would not be in need of a fresh look, a return to his favorite haunt, to propel himself further in the 2017 season, right?

That is probably true, but – and this is no coincidence – the best athletes always seem to be self motivators. Michael Jordan was famous for his competitiveness, using slights large and small, real and imagined, to fuel his desire to rise so far above the competition that for anyone to claim he was not the best basketball player of all-time requires a convincing support argument.

McCutchen’s place in baseball will likely not end up akin to Jordan’s place in basketball. And that’s ok. But that does not preclude him from finding the fire in the same way that MJ did.

Tonight, Pittsburgh Pirates fans are searching for positives. Anything, really, to convince them that the 2017 season is not lost before it truly began.

That third inning catch won’t cure the disappointment and – let’s be real – resentment that many are feeling tonight. Not on its own merit. McCutchen will still have to produce at the plate, and show that he can still handle the rigors of the demanding position.

But it was a hell of a start.

Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)