Andrew McCutchen’s best asset in center field is his speed. It allows him to play deep, overcome bad routes (his biggest and most frequently displayed shortcoming), chase down balls other fielders can’t get, and make runners think twice before taking an extra base when the ball does fall in.
With that in mind, I was not surprised by McCutchen’s answers when I asked him to name the toughest outfield and his favorite outfield in which to play defense.
“Toughest place? I’d have to say Detroit,” McCutchen said. “A lot of room to roam. You’d play back and the ball would still be 40 feet behind you. Colorado’s a huge field, too. But I love running where you don’t have to worry about the wall behind you, so I love Coors Field.”
»»» Ross Ohlendorf is on tour with the Pirates Winter Caravan for the third time in as many offseasons since joining the club. Sometimes, players may grumble about the long days and bus rides along dark, snowy back roads in the tri-state area. But Ohlendorf, who Monday morning visited patients and signed autographs for 2 1/2 hours at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side, really seems to enjoy the Caravan.
“It’s nice to see the fans before we go (to Bradenton),” Ohlendorf said. “The fans who come out to events like this are the fans who really care about the Pirates and really like the Pirates. It’s nice to be around them.”
»»» While half of the Caravan crew was at AGH, the rest — Jose Tabata, Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, bench coach Jeff Banister and first base coach Luis Silverio — stopped by Allegheny College in Meadville. The players had a brief workout with members of Allegheny’s baseball team. “It was a really cool experience,” said sophomore Frank Triozzi, who caught Hanrahan’s bullpen session. “Catching a major league pitcher is something that most people only get to dream about.”
If he reaches 5,000 Twitter followers by the start of spring training, Hanrahan has promised to give away the cleats he wore last year during the game in which he notched his 100th strikeout of the season. As of this morning, @Hanrahan4457 was up to 4,852 followers.
One last thing … in case you missed it, the A’s yesterday signed Andy LaRoche to a minor league deal with a spring training invite.