|Andrew McCutchen has lots to smile about these days. (US Presswire)|
As best I can tell, Andrew McCutchen will be the first Pirate to grace the cover of a video game since Jack Sparrow. He'll also be the first Pittsburgh Pirate to serve as the cover athlete for an MLB licensed game after winning the fan vote for MLB 13: The Show. He beat out the likes of Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, CC Sabathia, Matt Kemp, and Bryce Harper. Three MVPs, a Cy Young Award winner, a handful of Rookies of the Year ... not bad.
McCutchen, 26, was in New York last week to promote the game at the Sony Store in midtown. He admitted that he and his teammates try to sneak in some gaming while on the road -- "We try to get (video games) in as much as we can ... it gives you something to do when we're in the hotel room." He also discussed his decision to skip the World Baseball Classic, things he wants to improve after his marvelous 2012 season, new additions to the team and wanting to be part of the next Pirates club that not only gets over the .500 hump but also qualifies for the postseason and wins the World Series. Here's a transcript of our chat.
On declining an invitation to the WBC: "I felt like I wasn't where I need to be (as far as) preparing myself for the World Baseball Classic. I'm a person who takes a while to get myself prepared and ready for a season, so that would have been cut short. It wouldn't have been fair to someone else who might have been ready. I'm working hard to get myself prepared for the season, for the Pirates, and to basically propel us to where we want to go, and that's advancing to the World Series. That's what I'm doing right now, and I didn't want to have any time cut short on that."
On improving in 2013: "The big thing I'm trying to work on is getting to the next base, stealing bases. Getting to the next bag. I only had (20 steals in 32 attempts) last year, and I want to have a lot more than that. It's something that I'm definitely going to be working on, getting good jumps, getting good reads, getting to the next bag so I can have the opportunity to score that run."
On adding veterans like A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and Russell Martin to a young team: "It definitely helps bringing in guys like that. We need that. I'm definitely looking forward to playing alongside those guys who we just got, and they're going to help us out a heck of a lot (in getting) to where we need to be, and that's in the playoffs and going from there. I'm looking forward to playing alongside them and especially learning from them."
On trading Joel Hanrahan: "He's a guy that's consistent, a guy that we [knew would] go out and get the job done ... [He] was a great guy to have in the ninth inning. Someone will take his place, and that's Jason Grilli, who was our setup guy, our eighth inning guy. He came in day in and day out and did the job. He's just a warrior. He's a guy that's just going to go after you when he gets on that mound. That's something that we need, and we have that with him. He's going to do the job for us. I wish the best of luck to Joel, and I look forward to Grilli being our closer. I know he's going to do a real good job."
On the impact of the second Wild Card: "The key for us is taking it day by day, doing what we have to do. We can't focus on the second wild card or playoffs. We need to do what we need to do first in the regular season. Don't worry about it, just go and and do what we need to do to win ballgames."
On potentially being part of the next Pirates team to finish over .500 and make the postseason: "(The Pirates) were a franchise that was winning. They were winning and they were a team that won a few World Series back in the day, but they had some hardships as well. To be able to talk to the '79 World Series team, the guys who were a part of that team, they had their hardships (before the '70s) ... The first few years they weren't great. It wasn't just they came out and won, they went through some things. Just to be able to hear that from them, it says a lot. It means a lot. It keeps you positive, (it tells us) that we're OK and that we'll get to where we need to go. I'm looking forward to going out and being able to change things around for the franchise."
On the atmosphere at PNC Park and fans getting behind the team: "Oh yeah, definitely, big time. (The fans are) doing a lot, they're getting behind us. I've been here for a few years now and I've been able to see the change. With the more wins we've gotten over the years the more the fans come out because they can sense it just like we can. They can sense that this ballclub is heading in the right direction, and it's good just to be able to see that change. I know it's only going to get better from here, and I'm looking forward to us just being able to do a lot more this year."
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