Pirates A.M. — McCutchen’s uneasy start to spring training


By Rob Biertempfel

BRADENTON, Fla. — Wearing a grey hoodie and black cap, Andrew McCutchen met with reporters for about 15 minutes this morning after arriving at Pirate City. McCutchen had a turbulent offseason — he was the subject of trade talks, particularly during the winter meetings in December, then lost his job in center field.

McCutchen answered every question without hesitation, but his trademark smile never flashed during the interview. Some of his thoughts:

>>> On his emotions heading into camp: “Pretty motivated, ready to go. I worked hard this offseason. Just ready to show up and do what I’ve got to do.”

>>> On moving to right field: “There was at one point, it was my call – when I was ready to go to right, it was on me. (Now,) it was more, ‘This is something you have to do.’ It wasn’t an ask. It was more of a say that I have to move there and it’s for the betterment of the team. That’s one of the first times where that’s something I wanted to go against. It wasn’t something I was ready for or something I wanted to do. But as I’m saying that, I’m talking about myself. I had to not be as selfish and just accept that’s what I have to do and move over to right.”

>>> On coming to terms with the position change: “It didn’t take too long. Once I got over the fact I had to move, the more I started to try to look at it and get some positivity out of it. That’s one way to look at it. Playing in a position, a spot of a guy I idolized, (Roberto) Clemente. He set the standard for someone to be like. I would love to be half that guy. It’s an honor to be out there playing that position. To be able to have won a Roberto Clemente Award, that’s awesome. To be playing out there and following in his footsteps is an honor for me.”

>>> On getting started with spring training: “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, my teammates. I really haven’t spoken to too many people yet. I’m looking forward to being back. Looking forward to just getting out on the field and playing. I know you’re all sick of hearing about everything that’s happened and I am too. I’m ready to get my feet out there. Ready to show that this is just the beginning of some good stuff. I’m looking forward to spring training and putting a bat in my hand again.”

In other news from this morning at Pirate City … The Pirates had a full-squad meeting at 9 a.m. today and will head to the fields around 10 a.m. Highlights include bullpens for the C and D groups, along with full infield practice and batting practice. … As promised, Ivan Nova showed up today with a fresh dye job. Nova’s hair is now (mostly) yellow.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.