Story and videos by Rob Biertempfel/Photo by Chaz Palla
Last August, manager Clint Hurdle benched Andrew McCutchen for a road series against the Braves. Before yesterday’s game, McCutchen and I chatted for about 20 minutes on the field. He kept repeating his deep, bitter disappoinment with his current batting funk. When I asked Cutch if it might be worthwhile to sit out a couple of games again as a slump-buster, he practically spit.
“It hasn’t been brought up to me at all. It hasn’t been discussed,” McCutchen said. “I don’t need to give them an excuse to even think about that. I didn’t help me. I don’t think so. People will say, ‘But you hit .280 after that.’ I said in a meeting (with Hurdle) before (being benched), ‘I did something in my last at-bat that felt really good and I’m going to stick with that approach the rest of the season.’ So, for those three days, I sat there and pondered on that one at-bat. Jeremy Jeffries. A tough pitcher, who I don’t have a whole lot of success against. I stayed inside on a fastball that ran in and hit it up the middle. And I was like, ‘Yes!’ If I had played those three games, I could have hit .290 instead of .280. I don’t think it really did much. If anything, it had me sit on that for three days.”
Apparently, a lot of yinz would like to see McCutchen get some time off — even if that means playing an untested, hybrid outfield of Jose Osuna, Adam Frazier and Danny Ortiz:
McCutchen was batting .241/.311/.408 when Hurdle benched him last year in Atlanta. He's now at .206/.280/.390. Hurdle should …
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) May 17, 2017
Of course, hours after that poll closed, Cutch went 2 for 4 with two RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases vs. the Nats.
>>> This morning, a South Korean court upheld Jung Ho Kang’s suspended sentence for his most recent drunk-driving conviction. Kang’s attorney described that as a “death sentence” for Kang’s MLB career. While that’s probably hyperbole, the ruling does keep a cloud over the issue of when — or even if — Kang will be able to rejoin the Pirates this season. I’ll have more on this as it develops. UPDATE 10:32 a.m.: Prez Frank Coonelly is expected to release a statement this afternoon on Kang’s failed appeal. Neither Coonelly (in NY at MLB owners’ meetings) nor GM Neal Huntington (at Pirate City in Bradenton) is with the team today. As it was explained to me, Kang’s suspended jail sentence was not the hang-up in him getting a work visa to play in the United States. The U.S. government is focused on the fact that he was convicted of a crime (for the third time) rather than the penalty for the crime.
>>> Yinz want links? I’ve got links:
Pirates 6, Nationals 1: Gerrit Cole tosses another gem and finally gets some run support, including a big bop from this guy:
McCutchen deep down inside surely is at least a little pissed at management, but he’ll only say out loud that he’s angry at himself.
>>> Thursday: Nationals at Pirates, 12:35 p.m. PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Nationals (25-14): Trea Turner 6, Brian Goodwin 7, Bryce Harper 9, Anthony Rendon 5, Daniel Murphy 4, Matt Wieters 2, Adam Lind 3, Michael Taylor 8, RHP Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.88) 1
Pirates (17-23): Adam Frazier 7, Josh Harrison 5, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, John Jaso 9, Jordy Mercer 6, Alen Hanson 4, Chris Stewart 2, RHP Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 7.98) 1
>>> Friday: Phillies at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Phillies: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71) Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.41)
>>> Saturday: Phillies at Pirates, 4:05 p.m. PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.63) Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48)
>>> Sunday: Phillies at Pirates, 1:35 p.m. PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (2-0, 5.40). Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-4, 6.69)
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.