McCutchen sounds like perfect fit

Everybody stresses, praises his character 29 days before opening day
March 7, 2012 12:00 am
  • Pirates owner Bob Nutting, middle, and Andrew McCutchen shake hands at the news conference Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla., announcing McCutchen's $51.5 million, six-year contract. At left is general manager Neal Huntington.
    Pirates owner Bob Nutting, middle, and Andrew McCutchen shake hands at the news conference Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla., announcing McCutchen's $51.5 million, six-year contract. At left is general manager Neal Huntington.
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- There was hardly any baseball talk at the news conference to announce Andrew McCutchen's new six-year contract Tuesday morning.

Nobody mentioned batting average or muttered the words "home runs."

Instead, there was a lot of talk about character. Respect. Responsibility.

"We're not signing a baseball player," owner Bob Nutting said at McKechnie Field. "We're signing a person we believe in greatly."

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Not just an All-Star center fielder. The new face of the franchise.

"They've told me that," said McCutchen's agent, Steve Hammond. "They've told him that."

The Pirates hope their investment -- at least $51.5 million over the next six years -- will be realized in the form of wins and a winning culture. Negotiations with McCutchen started more than two years ago, not long after his major league debut with the Pirates.

In that time, Hammond said, McCutchen went from a young player who was not ready to take a leadership role on the team to a blossoming star who embraced those challenges.

"This commitment is one the organization is willing to make because of the person Andrew is, the player Andrew is and the play he is going to become," general manager Neal Huntington said.

He shunned the notion that McCutchen is the face of the franchise -- "The team itself is the face of the franchise," he said -- but suggested this was a deal the Pirates had to make.

"Well there were rumors of negotiations for well over two years," Huntington said, "so that answers the question in itself."

McCutchen, 25, said he was honored and humbled to have earned a new contract and pledged to stay the same person despite moving to a new tax bracket. He said he always wanted to sign a long-term deal with the Pirates, adding that the club that drafted him "felt like I was home."

"It's almost like getting drafted all over again," McCutchen said. "It's almost like being married, and you renew your vows."

McCutchen is the franchise's most recognizable player. His likeness has been the focus point of much of the team's marketing campaigns. That mostly stems from his on-field performance, where he ranks among the league's top-20 outfielders, but his outgoing personality helps.

"We're very confident that Andrew understands the commitment that's been made to him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We understand the commitment that he's made to us."


First Published 2012-03-06 23:08:35

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