Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

McCutchen's Change of Position, Rotation Provide Intrigue for Bucs

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

McCutchen's Change of Position, Rotation Provide Intrigue for Bucs

Article excerpt

PITTSBURGH - Andrew McCutchen's spot in center field was the fulcrum around which the Pittsburgh Pirates swung from laughingstock to contenders. Now it belongs to Starling Marte after McCutchen gracefully opted to pass the torch at his favorite position to pick up the torch at another: right field. The five-time All-Star and 2013 NL MVP will arrive in Bradenton, Florida for spring training as the starting right fielder as part of a shuffling that saw Marte - a two-time Gold Glove winner - slide over to center and Gregory Polanco flip from right to left. That means McCutchen will patrol right for the first time in the majors, working in front of the 21- foot high Clemente Wall at PNC Park named for arguably the greatest player in franchise history.

McCutchen certainly seems at peace with the decision, sharing a picture of Clemente on his Twitter feed shortly after manager Clint Hurdle made the decision official.

It should make for a relatively drama-free six weeks in Florida, startling considering Pittsburgh spent the offseason exploring trade options for the player that's served as the cornerstone of the team's renaissance. It was perhaps the most significant move of all during an offseason that saw the Pirates do little on the open market to address the holes that popped up during a disappointing 2016 in which the club failed to make the postseason for the first time in four years.

Outside of re-signing free agent pitcher Ivan Nova and bringing in reliever Daniel Hudson, the Pirates will search for answers internally as they try to close the canyon that developed last season between themselves and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. A quick look at what to keep an eye out for between now and opening day in Boston on April 3.

NEW LOOK: Nova was impressive during his two-month stint with the Pirates after arriving in a trade deadline deal with the New York Yankees. After testing free agency, Nova opted to stick around for a relatively inexpensive three-year, $26 million deal. Hudson will give the back end of the bullpen some depth. The most significant departure came when valuable utility man Sean Rodriguez signed with Atlanta. …

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