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Thread: McCutcheon trying to do even better

      
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    Default McCutcheon trying to do even better

    McCutcheon trying to do even better after breakout season
    By Rob Biertempfel, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    [IMGR]http://i42.tinypic.com/140ep80.jpg[/IMGR]

    BRADENTON, Fla. The 47 extra-base hits, the most by any rookie in the National League last season, were impressive. So were the 36 multi-hit games, which included a three-homer barrage on an August night against Washington.

    Defensive skills? He had 10 outfield assists, the most by a rookie in four years.

    Speed? He swiped 22 bases.

    Consistency? He was the first Pirates newbie to have three hitting streaks of 10-plus games since Richie Zisk in 1973.

    Andrew McCutchen made the most of his first 123 days in the major leagues.

    It was a fantastic, breakout season.

    Or was it?

    At least one of his teammates, outfielder Brandon Moss, believes McCutchen's real breakout performance will come this summer ... and probably for a lot of summers after that.

    "I know he had a great half-season last year," Moss said, "but I think Andrew is capable of doing so much more."

    The hype began soon after the Pirates chose McCutchen with the 11th overall pick in 2005. That draft produced a heralded class that included Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Jacoby Ellsbury.

    Sixteen of those first-round picks were in the big leagues within 27 months but not McCutchen.

    Two general managers, Dave Littlefield and then Neal Huntington, resisted the temptation to rush McCutchen to Pittsburgh. They realized the risk of ruining their prized prospect outweighed the potential short-term reward.

    Littlefield came close to pulling the trigger at the end of 2007 spring training. In 2008, Huntington left McCutchen behind in the spring, then asked him to fine-tune his defense in the fall in Instructional League.

    "He went back to Instructional League, in a year when he thought he probably should've been called up, and handled it better than anyone could've imagined," Huntington said.

    Last spring, McCutchen hit .318 with a .561 slugging percentage in spring training and again was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis. Huntington expected to call up McCutchen in August or September. Instead, the call came in June, when Nate McLouth was traded.

    McCutchen singled in his first at-bat. More thrills followed. McCutchen faded briefly in August, then revved up again in the season's final weeks. He finished fourth in voting for NL Rookie of the Year.

    What can he do for an encore?

    "Try to have an even better year," McCutchen said with a shrug. "Shoot high, work hard and hope for the best. I prepared myself well this offseason, so I want to have an even better year."

    Manager John Russell gave McCutchen a to-do list: improve his throws, get better jumps on fly balls, counterpunch to pitchers who've learned his tendencies and steal more bases.

    "He's got confidence," Russell said. "He was in the limelight before he ever got here (in the majors). He's the type of guy who relaxes and has fun. That helps him play the game the way he does."

    One thing McCutchen won't have to do this spring is worry about impressing the coaches. The past four springs, McCutchen tried to make the big jump to the majors, even though he knew he was likely headed back to the minors.

    "This year, it's just about preparing myself for the season," McCutchen said. "The mindset changes."

    The hype doesn't change, though.

    Until top prospect Pedro Alvarez arrives, McCutchen will be by far the Pirates' most marketable player and fan magnet.

    The Pirates have just one bobblehead giveaway this season -- guess who? McCutchen was all over the Pirates' Winter Caravan tour, then out-dueled teenagers in the Guitar Hero video game at PirateFest at the end of January.

    For the past few weeks, McCutchen has been as dominating in spring training as he was last summer in Pittsburgh.

    "He's hungrier," Huntington said. "He's in great shape again. He's ready to establish himself and hopefully avoid that sophomore slump."

    His teammates expect McCutchen's growth this season to include more than just fatter stats. It's clear from the way the clubhouse perks up when McCutchen strolls in that he's rapidly becoming a team leader.

    "He has all those intangibles that you think about when it comes to being a leader," infielder Delwyn Young said. "Time will tell if that makes him a great leader or not. He has everything else on his side."

    Pitcher Zach Duke envisions fans around the majors not just in Pittsburgh wearing Pirates jerseys with McCutchen's name stitched across the back.

    "He's got a lot of expectations piled on his shoulders," Duke said. "But as long as he keeps his attitude the way it is, he can evolve into a leader throughout the league. He could be a guy who kids can look at and try to model themselves after."

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_673750.html
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    Default Re: McCutcheon trying to do even better

    I love that they spelled his name wrong in the headline. Who decided there should be an O in there?

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    Default Re: McCutcheon trying to do even better

    Quote Originally Posted by jnn123 View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I love that they spelled his name wrong in the headline. Who decided there should be an O in there?
    I went back and looked, just in case it was my fault... And it was there.

    .... So not "my bad".... Guess I could'a edited it, but I always frown on changing what is originally written....
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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