McCutchen getting into the swing of things
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When Andrew McCutchen got the text-message invitation, he wasn't sure how to respond.
He had just heard from National League captain and Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who asked him to join the field for tonight's Home Run Derby. He hesitated, but decided to accept.
"My girlfriend actually talked me into it," McCutchen said. "She kind of just said, 'Hey, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for you.'"
McCutchen will replace the Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, who had knee surgery. McCutchen asked Jon Spradlin, his coach at Fort Meade High School in Florida, to pitch to him.
"We used to always talk about it when we were in high school and stuff," McCutchen said. "It would be kind of cool one day, just kind of joking.
"I went to text him, told him, 'I do need a BP thrower. [He responded], 'I can get loose real quick.'"
Neither McCutchen nor manager Clint Hurdle were concerned about the negative effects repetitive attempts to crush home runs could have on McCutchen's second half.
"There's a lot of school of thoughts, oh, it'll wreck his swing," Hurdle said.
"It's not going to wreck his swing. He's a smart kid. Go there, look for the ball up in the zone, put your good swing on it, you'll hit it out of the ballpark just like you've done most of your career."
McCutchen homered twice in Sunday's win against the San Francisco Giants, giving him 18 for the season. He said he will not change his swing -- a short, compact stroke -- to attempt to hit more home runs.
"If I hit 10 line drives," McCutchen said, "I hit 10 line drives."
His experience at last year's All-Star Game, McCutchen said, will make him better prepared for the hubbub surrounding him and the game and allow him to relax and perform.
"I couldn't even take a comfortable batting practice because of all those people," McCutchen said. "This year's definitely going to be different because I've seen it and now I kind of know what to expect."
McCutchen is the first Pirate to participate since Jason Bay in 2005, when Bay failed to hit a home run in Comerica Park in Detroit. He joins Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Beltran for the National League in the derby.
"I just chatted with him earlier today about it," Hurdle said. "I told him go get it, go embrace it."
Hurdle said the Pirates will re-structure their rotation after the All-Star break.
James McDonald, Kevin Correia and A.J. Burnett will start against the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jeff Karstens, Erik Bedard and McDonald will go against the Colorado Rockies. The move separates McDonald and Burnett, gives Burnett some rest and allows Bedard more time to throw on the side, Hurdle said.
"You throw [McDonald and Burnett] back to back and then you go for a kill -- well, that's true," Hurdle said. "And then you get some series where you set up and they're not even involved that could be of importance as well. I don't know if there's a perfect equation."
Alex Presley, who is on the seven-day disabled list because of a concussion, worked out hard Saturday and Sunday, Hurdle said. He will work out again Thursday before the Pirates make a decision about his return.
First Published July 9, 2012 11:33 pm