Sean Gentille: Leave Andrew McCutchen in center field for good
April 19, 2017 11:12 AM
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Andrew McCutchen catches a fly ball hit by St. Louis' Mike Leake in the third inning Tuesday.
By Sean Gentille / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Starling Marte’s suspension killed the Pirates’ season. We established that; the 2017 roster was always going to be a house of cards, but on Tuesday morning, the house was at least standing.
Now, they’re stuck. It’s not just Jung Ho Kang’s possible South Korean jail stint, or an unproven rotation, or a soggy bullpen. It’s Starling Marte, gone until July and then again in October, should they somehow manage to make that far. His Nandralone pinch didn’t throw a wet blanket on the season — it threw the season in the river.
So, if you care about this team, it’s time to take solace in small victories. If that’s an unwelcome throwback to 1993-2010, so it goes. In 2004, you got to watch Rob Mackowiak hitting home runs in both ends of a doubleheader on the day he became a father. In 2006, you got to watch Freddy Sanchez win a batting title.
And, in 2017, you get to watch Andrew McCutchen play center field again. If nothing else, he seems happy about it. This was him on Wednesday night in St. Louis.
“I’m just doing my job,” he said afterward. “Center field is where I need to play. It’s where I’m going to be at. If I need to show a couple people that, you know, I can do what I need to out there, I’m going to do it.”
He had another nice catch, too, and a pair of hits. Compare that to four days earlier.
The experiment was always going to feel ... off. Correct in theory, maybe, but aesthetically weird and cosmically unfulfilling.
Now, McCutchen is back to the spot he made famous. He should stay there whenever Marte returns. This chapter of franchise history isn’t going to end the way anybody hoped — but it can at least end the way it started, with the man most responsible in the position he wants to play.
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