Pirates notebook: McCutchen honored as June NL Player of Month

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 7:45 p.m.

Andrew McCutchen was named National League Player of the Month for June on Wednesday, the third time he's received the award.

“I'm definitely honored, grateful and thank God for the opportunity,” McCutchen said. “I was able to put forth a good month, and to be able to get the award is really good, but I definitely couldn't do it without my teammates. We're playing some good ball, and it's starting to show.”

The Pirates' center fielder led the league in extra-base hits with 12 doubles and eight home runs in 26 games. He tied for the lead in home runs and RBIs (25). He also had a .410 on-base percentage, a .343 batting average and five stolen bases.

Other candidates for the award were Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy and Scooter Gennett, and Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton.

McCutchen last won the award back-to-back in June and July 2012. He becomes one of just five Pirates position players (Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds) to win the award at least three times.

“I felt pretty good. I was definitely starting to get my extra-base hits and hit the ball for some power a little bit,” he said. “I was definitely feeling good throughout the month, and I'm just going to try to improve and get better as we go forward in July.”

Two ships passing

Ernesto Frieri was at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago for his layover en route to Pittsburgh from Kansas City after being traded by the Angels for Jason Grilli on Friday when he saw a face he recognized in the bathroom.

“It was still early for me, so I was like, ‘I need to throw some water on my face,' ” Frieri said. “I go in there, and the first thing I see is this guy with curly hair, and he was washing his hands, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I know this guy!' ”

Sure enough, it was Grilli, stopping for his layover from Pittsburgh to Kansas City.

“We both were laughing, and then after that we started talking,” Frieri said. “He said, ‘You know what? You're going to a great ballpark, great teammates, great coaches. You're going to love it over there. Great city. The people are amazing. You're going to have fun.'

“And I said, ‘You too, man. You're going to a great team. You're going to help, and you're going to have a lot of chances to be in the playoffs.' He seemed kind of sad, but we both understand this is business. This is baseball. One day you're here; the next day you're there. You just have to do your best wherever you go.”

Liriano nearing rehab

Left-hander Francisco Liriano threw a simulated game as scheduled Wednesday. Manager Clint Hurdle watched three of the four innings and said Liriano was working out of the windup and stretch and throwing all his pitches.

“Seemed to be no complications so far, so it's going well,” Hurdle said. “We'll see how he feels (Thursday) then map out a potential rehab assignment.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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