Andrew McCutchen has been in black and gold for nearly his entire athletic career. From his high school days in Fort Meade, Fla., to being drafted by and progressing through the ranks of the Pittsburgh Pirates, McCutchen has proudly sported the colors long associated with Pittsburgh.
Coming off his first All-Star appearance and looking to build on Pittsburgh's promising start to the 2011 season, McCutchen has high hopes for 2012. McCutchen, who has spent more than a month training at IMG Academy this offseason, recently took time to speak about preparing for the season, comparisons to Deion Sanders and the Pittsburgh culture.
Andrew McCutchen on...
...winter training at IMG Academy: I didn't want to have any regrets going into the season and know I did everything I could to prepare myself. The game is so mental. I wanted to erase any doubt. I've done everything here. From vision to mental to physical - I've done it all at IMG. I came here to get better and I feel like I have. Physically, mentally, I feel like I'm prepared for this year.
...world-class athleticism: I've actually watched the video of me and Deion (see below). It's pretty cool to see us run side by side. He's an incredible athlete. It looked like we may have tied. I haven't been clocked in the 60 since high school. I ran a 6.2 then. That was my fastest time.
I feel like I could have played football or ran track at a high level. I ran the 100, 4 x 100 and the long jump. I stopped playing football after my sophomore year after having reconstructive surgery on my knee and still had schools that wanted me to come visit for football. Baseball was always my first love, though.
...when he knew he had a chance to be an MLB star: I'm from a really small town - Fort Meade, Florida - which has like 4,500 people there. Our high school baseball fields had a cow pasture and woods in the back. Everyone knows everyone there. So when 30 or 40 scouts show up to a game, it's pretty noticeable.
...his call-up in 2009: The night before I was in the minors and had the day off. I was sleeping and just happened to open my eyes and see my phone lighting up. It was my manager telling me that I had to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight and make it to Pittsburgh for a 12:35 game. By the time I got to the field, I had about 45 minutes until the game started. It was like, âHey, here's the GM. You are going to be starting and hitting leadoff. Here's your uniform and locker. Put on your uniform and get started.â I had no sleep, but my adrenaline was pumping. To get my first career hit in my first at bat made it even better.
...his fan-friendly reputation: As long as you play hard and have love for the sport, the fans in Pittsburgh are going to be good to you. I like to show fans that I support them as well. If I can give them some of my time by coming out of the clubhouse a little early and sign autographs to show my appreciation, I like to do it.
I was that kid once who looked up to players. Now, I'll drive back to my place in Pittsburgh and see people walking down the street wearing a âMcCutchenâ jersey. To me, that's the coolest thing in the world.
...team goals for 2012: We don't set our goals to just break the losing streak. Our main objective is to win the World Series. We're not satisfied to just break the losing streak. Set your standards as high as you can go and work from there.
...taunts from fans in the outfield: Philly is pretty tough. Their fans are on you the whole game. You hear the fans wherever you go. You just try to not pay attention to it. I can't even share some of the craziest stuff I've heard. The best fans are in the outfield. The seats are cheaper and the fans are usually drinking, so they're going to let you have it.