Pirates pregame: Some thoughts from a veteran teammate about who might replace Andrew McCutchen
WASHINGTON — As I prepped to write today's notebook item about who could be the next face of the franchise after Andrew McCutchen departs, the first person I spoke with was grizzled veteran Chris Stewart. Although none of his insight made it into today's story, there was some good stuff there and I thought I'd share it.
Me: So, who takes over for Cutch?
Stew: “I think everybody is capable of it. Gerrit has been our ace this year. You've got Rivero closing out games, throwing it 102 mph. Josh Bell is hitting the ball 1,000 feet. There's quite a few guys.”
Me: It's not a title you can just hand to somebody, right? It has to evolve, be earned.
Stew: “I think it's more about which guy comes through as the team leader on the field. With baseball the way it is now, you don't have too many of those guys — the team captains — anymore. With so many young guys coming up, it's more of a team focus. Maybe it will be whoever the fans create that person to be.”
Me: Then again, the guy who's a fan favorite isn't always the same guy who's the real clubhouse leader.
Stew: “No question, it can be. I know the fans in L.A. love (Yasiel) Puig, but I doubt he's the clubhouse leader for that team. The fans don't dictate who leads the team on the field. It's about who they enjoy watching the most. A majority of the time, though, the guy who the fans enjoy watching play is also the guy who leads the team on the field.”
AROUND THE HORN
I canvassed a lot of guys in the clubhouse about who they think will be the next face o' the franchise. The most common response I got was similar to this one from Chad Kuhl: ‘That's a hard question. If it is his last year, those are big shoes to fill. I hope we're not done with him.” … Pirates Charities will collect relief supplies to send to hurricane victims at Puerto Rico. Items may be dropped off in the cul-de-sac outside PNC Park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. … ICYMI, Josh Harrison and this wife welcomed their second daughter, Kinsli Rose Harrison, late Friday night.
Pirates at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park, Washington. TV: AT&T SportsNet. Radio: 93.7 FM, 1450 AM, 1480 AM
PIRATES (74-87): Chris Bostick 4, Starling Marte 7, Andrew McCutchen 8, Josh Bell 3, David Freese 5, Jordan Luplow 9, Max Moroff 6, Jacob Stallings 2, LHP Steven Brault (1-0, 3.86)
NATIONALS (97-64): Trea Turner 6, Bryce Harper 9, Anthony Rendon 5, Daniel Murphy 4, Ryan Zimmerman 3, Jayson Werth 7, Matt Wieters 2, Michael Taylor 8, LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-7, 2.68)
>> MARCH 29, 2018, 1:10 P.M. ET at Comerica Park: Pirates TBA vs. Tigers TBA.