Andrew McCutchen Calls On Old Coach For Home Run Derby

PITTSBURGH, PA — When Andrew McCutchen was playing High School in Fort Meade, Florida, he used to joke around with his coach that one day he would be in the Home Run Derby. Little did he know that it would come true in just his fourth season in the big leagues.

McCutchen texted his coach, John Sprandlin, to deliver him the news yesterday and ask an even bigger question.

“He told me congratulations,” McCutchen said. “And I was like, ‘You know what I’m going to ask.’ We used to always talk about when [I] was in High School and stuff. It would be kind of cool one day. And I was like, ‘Yeah. It would be cool.’ Just kind of joking.”

“I sent him a text and told him, ‘I do need a BP thrower.’ And he was like, ‘I can get loose real quick.’ It was pretty neat to get that opportunity just to go out there and have him there. Not only something pretty neat for myself, but something that will be neat for himself too. It’s going to be pretty awesome.”

Despite being named to his second All-Star game this season, signing a contract extension with the Pirates, leading his team in home runs (18), and leading the Major Leagues with a .359 average this season, McCutchen is humble. When asked if he ever thought this moment would have happened, with a huge smile his face said, ‘Honestly, no.’

“You look at the guys that are in the home run derby, they’re guys that hit 40, 50 home runs, they’re big guys,” McCutchen said. “They’re guys that can drive the ball 500 feet. I’m not that person that’s going to hit the ball 500 feet. Just not going to happen. I can hit some home runs. Just not that far. I never thought I’d be in a home run derby ever.”

“It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”

Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp texted McCutchen to tell him that Stanton was injured and that he needed a replacement for the National League. McCutchen said he had to talk himself into it, because at first he was hesitant.

The outfielder was honest about feeling nerves when the Home Run Derby takes place on Monday night. It’s a little bit of a different stage than he’s used to playing on.

“There’s no cage around you,” McCutchen said. “That’s the part that you’ve got to get used to, and you’ve got to get used to it pretty quick. I guess on top of 40,000-plus fans being there, and the whole U.S watching. That’s something else that’s a little different.”

“You’re going to be nervous regardless. I still get nervous before baseball games. I can only imagine how I’m going to feel when I step into that box. I’m just going to have a lot of fun with it. Not too many people can say they’ve done [it]. They can say they’ve been in an All-Star game, but not too many people can say they’ve been in a home run derby.”

McCutchen connected for his 17th and 18th home runs of the season on Sunday off San Francisco, giving fans a preview for Monday night. The outfielder isn’t a prototypical home run hitter.  McCutchen’s homers this season are the most he’s taken into the All-Star break in his career. The 25-year-old is just five shy of his career-high 23 long balls which he hit over 572 at-bats last season.

Some may be worried that the home run derby will affect his swing in the second-half of the season. Both both Manager Clint Hurdle and McCutchen are confident it won’t.

“With my swing, there’s nothing that can really change,” McCutchen said. “It’s different from like a lefty. They have those long loopy swings. That can sometimes change them. With me and my swing, it’s pretty much short and quick. I don’t know how to swing under a ball and hit it up. I’m more of a kind of straight to it, quick through it kind of swing. If I hit 10 line drives, I just hit 10 line drives.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Manager Clint Hurdle said. “I have trouble using the word honor, but I guess it is. I just chatted with him in here a little bit ago and I told him to ‘Go get it. Go embrace it.’ There is a lot of school of thought, ‘oh it will wreck his swing.’ It’s not going to wreck his swing. He’s a smart kid. Go there, look for the ball up in the zone and put your good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark. Just like you’ve done most of your career. Just another opportunity for Pittsburgh to be represented, the organization, the fan base. Really cool. Happy for him.”

Not only will McCutchen get much deserved attention for his MVP type first half season, but the Pittsburgh Pirates will be on center stage as well. The Pirates first half of the season has been an exciting one. The club enters the break with a 48-37 record — a season-high 11 games over .500 — as well as sitting a game up in first place in the National League Central.

“That will take care of itself, the recognition,” McCutchen said. “I don’t mind staying under the radar for the whole season. The next thing you know, they’ll look up and we’re in first. That will be fine with me. I could careless about recognition. I just want to go out. I’m doing it because it’s fun.”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Pirates Have an Easy Second Half Schedule, But Reds Have It Easier

Next Story »

Prospect Trends — Week Ending 7/8

Latest Analysis

  • Arquimedes Caminero

    Breaking Down the Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts

    20 hours ago

    With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including ...

    Read More
  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    2 days ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    4 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    5 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    6 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    1 week ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    2 weeks ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles