OPENING DAY

Barry Bonds will present MVP award to Pirates' McCutchen Monday



 

PHILADELPHIA -- Andrew McCutchen will receive his 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award from the man who won more MVPs than anyone else in baseball history.

Former Pirates outfielder and seven-time MVP Barry Bonds will join Dick Groat, another Pirates MVP, in presenting McCutchen with his award in a ceremony Monday, when the Pirates open the regular season at PNC Park against the Chicago Cubs.

"It was awesome news," McCutchen said. "You've got two of the greats of the past, both great in history themselves."

Former Pirates manager Jim Leyland, a two-time manager of the year with the Pirates, will present manager Clint Hurdle with his NL manager of the year award. Jack Wilson, a former Pirates shortstop and 2004 Silver Slugger winner, will present McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez with their Silver Slugger awards.

Bonds played for the Pirates from 1986-92 and won the MVP in 1990 and 1992. He left for the San Francisco Giants and went on to break the all-time home run record, hitting 762 in a 22-year career. He won five MVPs in San Francisco, including four in a row from 2001-04.

In 2003, Bonds became involved in an investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, which was believed to provide athletes with performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds was indicted in 2007 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. He eventually was found guilty on the obstruction of justice charge.

Bonds returned to baseball as a special hitting instructor in Giants spring training and told reporters he had softened since his playing days.

"I was a different character," he told the San Francisco Chronicle this spring. "I needed that guy to play. That's who I was at the time. It's not who I am now."

Groat played nine years for the Pirates in the 1950s and 1960s. He won the MVP in 1960, along with a batting title and a World Series ring.

"For them to be MVPs of this organization and to be able to come back and present me with the award, definitely an honor," McCutchen said.

McCutchen has not met Bonds.

"I look forward to hopefully sharing a few words with him and talking to him," McCutchen said. "I definitely look forward to that."

In 2013, McCutchen hit .317 with a .404 on-base percentage, 21 home runs and 27 stolen bases. He beat out Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for the award.

"This will be a nice remembrance in general," McCutchen, 27, said. "It's something I can always look back on at times where things may not be going well during the season. I'll be able to look back on that and remind yourself that you are good."

McCutchen did not specify an on-field area of focus for the 2014 season, instead saying he wanted to remain even-keeled throughout the year.

"Just getting better every single day, being the same person every single day," he said. "As easy as that sounds, it's even harder to do. Just trying to remain the same guy regardless of what happens off the field. Showing up to the field and trying to be that same guy, getting the work in, being dedicated like I have been."

The ceremony will start at 12:30 p.m. before the 1:05 p.m. first pitch. Gates open at 11 a.m.

In addition to his Silver Slugger, Alvarez will receive a 2013 NL home run plaque. He tied Goldschmidt for the league lead with 36 home runs. Opening-day starter Francisco Liriano will be honored as the NL comeback player of the year.

Fastrax, a professional skydiving team, will parachute onto the field, bringing with them the American flag and the Jolly Roger.

Scott Kiner, son of former Pirate and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner who passed away in February, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Pirates plan to honor Kiner by wearing patches on their uniforms this season.

 


First Published March 28, 2014 3:36 PM

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