Pirates notebook: Sore ankle doesn't hinder McCutchen
MILWAUKEE — After leaving Friday's game in the eighth inning because of a sore left ankle, Andrew McCutchen was back in the Pirates' lineup Saturday.
McCutchen described the injury only as “something that nags you” and said he's been bothered by it before.
“It's like when you wake up one day and it's like, ‘Aw, my back is hurting,' and then you wake up the next and your back's not hurting,” McCutchen said. “It's just one of those things. It's not going to hinder me at all. I'm going to do everything I normally do.”
McCutchen had an X-ray taken Friday night and was re-examined by a doctor Saturday morning. He tested the ankle on the field, running in short bursts and outfield routes, then took swings in the batting cage.
On Friday, McCutchen took himself out of the game after lining out in the eighth inning. He's not sure why the ankle flared up.
“It happened during the game, but I don't know what particular thing might've set it off,” McCutchen said. “It could have been the swing. We're really not too sure. But I feel fine. Good enough to go out there (Saturday).”
McCutchen, 27, has been durable over 41⁄2 seasons in the majors. He played 157 games in each of the past two seasons. Since his debut in June 2009, McCutchen has played in 744 of a possible 769 games.
A reporter jokingly asked McCutchen if he'd gotten a get-well call from outfielder Gregory Polanco, who's batting .441 with a 1.134 OPS at Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates' top prospect, Polanco is expected to reach the majors sometime this season.
“He didn't (call), but I'm sure he's ready,” McCutchen said with smile. “I know I was. I was ready (for the majors) when I was 18.”
Take a walk, Cutch
McCutchen has not seen many pitches in the strike zone so far this year, an unfortunate by-product of winning the MVP Award last year.
“The trophy will do that,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I've seen it happen. There's a definite change of (opposing pitchers') pattern and plan right now. They're trying to find a soft spot. Cutch has been very disciplined with his (plate appearances) to take the walks.”
Going into Saturday's game, McCutchen led the National League with 11 walks. He's on pace for 178 walks, which would shatter Ralph Kiner's franchise record of 137 set in 151 games in 1951.
McCutchen rode an 0-for-11 skid into Saturday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. He had a .194 batting average but a .383 on-base percentage.
“I'm seeing the ball well and having good at-bats,” McCutchen said. “I'm not going up there and striking out all the time. I know things will turn around for me at some point. The hits are going to come. I just have to remain patient.”
It will help if Pedro Alvarez continues to show off his power at the plate. On Thursday, McCutchen walked just before Alvarez mashed a game-winning, three-run homer against the Chicago Cubs.
“Pedro has been able to throw some punches back,” Hurdle said.
Around the horn
Reliever Vin Mazzaro was added to the roster at Triple-A Indianapolis. Reliever Josh Kinney was reassigned to Low-A Jamestown. ... Through Friday, the Pirates had scored 24 of their 41 runs (59 percent) in the seventh inning or later. ... The Pirates opened their season with three straight series wins for the first time since 1992, when they won six in a row. ... After hitting four homers in their first seven games, the Pirates went deep eight times in a span of 23 innings against the Brewers and Cubs. “I think this offense is going to continue to grow and show itself to be versatile,” Hurdle said. “We've shown we can beat you in a couple different ways. Quick-strike long ball. We can put down a bunt and steal a base. We've scored without a base hit. I like some of the threads I've seen show up already.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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