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‘We’re Back, Man,’ a Healthy Andrew McCutchen Reports to Spring Training

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Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — The last time we saw Andrew McCutchen on a baseball field was last September. He was being taken out of a game and into the home dugout at PNC Park with an injury.

That injury turned out to be a partially torn left Achilles tendon, which ended McCutchen’s 2023 season after 112 games played.

Though he didn’t take the field just yet, McCutchen was seen for the first time at Pirate City on Saturday. He took some swings in the batting cages before speaking with members of the media in front of his locker.

“We’re back, man,” McCutchen said. “Not officially yet until tomorrow, but it’s nice to be back, get back in Florida. No pun intended, to get back to the swing of things and get acclimated again to get your feet under you.”

The Pittsburgh Pirates re-signed McCutchen to a one-year deal in the offseason after ensuring all the medicals came back clean.

An Achilles injury can be problematic, especially for a 37-year-old like McCutchen, but he said there aren’t any lingering effects.

“I feel fine. No problems, really,” he said. “I haven’t done anything on a baseball field yet pertaining to running bases or things like that. But I have been running … Everything feels good. No problems. I’ll be here, going around bases, doing it a little more consistently and seeing how I respond to it, which I’m sure I’ll respond fine to it.”

While McCutchen says he’s fine, and there is no reason to not believe him, the Pirates expect to take things a little slower this year.

It’s understandable given the circumstances of someone coming off of a season-ending injury. That shouldn’t be a pause for concern.

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” said McCutchen. “There’s no point in hitting the ground running and trying to rush into things right now. Obviously, like all of us, but me more, haven’t played any games since I got injured last season. There’s no point in coming out here and trying to make the team right now. So I’ll take my time, get the load and get some consistency just running and doing baseball activities.”

Though McCutchen won’t have to familiarize himself with as many fresh faces this time around, he will have to get to know a few people who weren’t with the team last season.

Among the players McCutchen will have to get acquainted with, or in the case, reacquainted with, is Aroldis Chapman. Chapman was signed as a free agent by the Pirates last month. The two were briefly teammates with the New York Yankees in 2018 after McCutchen was dealt there by the San Francisco Giants.

There is also some history between the two from McCutchen’s first stint with the Pirates while Chapman was still with the Cincinnati Reds. There isn’t any animosity between the two.

“If someone would have told me 10 years that Chapman and I would be teammates and he’d be on the Pirates, I would laugh,” he joked. “I would have been like, ‘Yeah, right. That will never happen.’ That would be like me saying I’m gonna play for the Reds. Just didn’t seem to make sense. But now that that’s here, that’s where we are. So many years later. A lot of things have changed since. It’s a new day, guys.”

Now, McCutchen and Chapman will join forces for the second time in their careers and try to push the Pirates towards contention.

The Pirates have higher expectations heading into the season coming off of a 14-win improvement in 2023.

Can they get there?

“That’s the goal,” McCutchen said.

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