by Malik Vincent
For the first time since 1990, the Pirates sent three representatives to the 2011 All-Star game that took place at Chase Field in Phoenix July 13.
It was announced July 9 that third year centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon, who wasn’t originally picked, would replace Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun to represent the resurgent Bucs.
The team ended the first-half of this season on a roll with a 47-43 record—which is their best franchise mark since the 1992 season. They are currently just a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brewers in the National League Central division.
“We don’t want to be known as the team that has to have someone to represent the Pirates,” McCutcheon said to a reporter from MLB.com. “We’re going to have people there to represent the Pirates because they deserve to be there.”
A first-round selection by the Pirates in 2005, McCutcheon, 24, is leading the club in most of the offensive categories. He’s currently hitting a team-best .291, with 14 homers and a second-highest 54 RBIs. To go with his great hitting, he’s stolen 15 bases and has topped his teammates by crossing home plate 54 times.
When Pirates manager Clint Hurdle first understood that McCutcheon wasn’t initially, picked to the squad, he made some remarks to media about his disgust in the decision. He said that Major League Baseball, the players, and San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy—who’s managing the NL team—‘whiffed’ on not naming McCutcheon to the roster.
After word had been spread about what Hurdle had said, Bochy responded by saying Hurdle’s remarks was “getting too personal.”
They eventually made up through what Hurdle called “a 10- to 15-minute friendly phone conversation,” in which he said the two settled their differences.
The news was announced that the speedy, power-hitting outfielder had made the team in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs in front of the July 9th sellout crowd. The fans responded to the news with a standing ovation in which McCutcheon responded with a curtain call wave.
“It meant a lot, just because it felt like everyone was behind me,” McCutcheon said.
“I felt like everyone felt like I should have been (picked) in the first place. To kind of feel that relief from the fans, when they heard the good news and (saw) it on the board, it was good… It’s definitely something that I won’t forget.”
McCutcheon was joined on the NL club by flame-throwing closer Joel Hanrahan and starting pitcher Kevin Correia.
Hanrahan, in his first All-Star selection, leads the back end of the Pirates bullpen as the first Bucco to save 26 consecutive games—and has not blown one all season.
Correia, though he hasn’t been the most dominant hurler on the staff, has found a way to win an impressive 11 games to this point in the season to go with an earned run average that is in the low-4’s.
(Malik Vincent can be reached at email@example.com.)