New goals motivate McCutchen after winning NL MVP
Andrew McCutchen heard the familiar “MVP” chants cascading down from fans at PNC Park. They began during the pregame ceremony honoring his big award, and continued until his final at-bat in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day.
While it was nice to hear, McCutchen said, the Pirates' center fielder is not dwelling on what happened in 2013 when there's so much to look forward to in 2014.
“That was last year,” he said. “I'm ready for new beginnings, turn the page. Ready to just make some more history.”
The Pirates showcased the history McCutchen helped them make last season prior to Monday's first pitch, when seven-time NL MVP Barry Bonds and 1960 MVP Dick Groat presented McCutchen with the award for the NL's most valuable player.
Jack Wilson was also on hand to present Silver Slugger awards to 2013 recipients McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, and the former Pirates shortstop said he remembers walking out with Freddy Sanchez after a Sunday day game at PNC Park and seeing McCutchen taking part in his pre-draft tryout.
“We stuck around a little bit and watched what he could do,” Wilson said. “I think he was 165 pounds, but he was putting them farther in (batting practice) than anyone on our team at the time. We were pretty much in awe.
“Then being able to see him every spring coming back stronger and faster and see him develop to what he is now, it was fun to watch. I'm honored to be here to give him that award.”
Bonds was the last Pirates player to capture the MVP award and the only one to do it twice. He won in 1990 and '92 before signing as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants, with whom he won another five.
Asked if there were comparisons to be made between him and McCutchen, Bonds said he didn't think it was fair.
“I think he has his own style,” Bonds said. “He's done well, and he's brought a lot of thrills to Pittsburgh. It's been, I don't know, 20 years since someone has done that. I think he deserves to have his own style.
“Being as good as he is, he's going to pick up little pieces from everybody on his own. He's done a great job.”
McCutchen, with a little early April Fool's joke, said that Bonds told him Monday that anyone can win an MVP once.
“I'm kidding. He didn't say that,” McCutchen said. “No, he just basically gave me a little advice and said you've done it now, you don't need to put any more pressure on yourself. Just do what got you the MVP, just continue to go and play.”
McCutchen on Monday became the first Pirates center fielder to make five consecutive Opening Day starts since Andy Van Slyke, who made seven in a row between 1988-94.
McCutchen said this Opening Day felt different from past years'.
“Everybody knows what we're capable of doing,” he said. “It's not, ‘I wonder what we're going to do this year?' It's more of, all right, we know what we're going to do, so let's go out and do it.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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