Even though he plays in an age when it’s not unusual for players to change positions, he made no secret of the fact that moving away from that spot on the field — and not having a say in it — was difficult to accept.
“It’s more difficult because I feel I can still play it,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m at the end of my career. You know, people like to say, ‘Torii Hunter moved to right.’ Uh, also, Torii Hunter was 35 years old when he moved to right. So at the same time, I’m 30, and I feel like I can still play it.”
After he’d taken the time to process the decision, McCutchen said he came to accept that he couldn’t be selfish if the move was going to improve his team. So two weeks ago, he tweeted a photo of former Pirates right-field legend Roberto Clemente — just to signal that maybe moving to right, for this franchise, wasn’t so bad after all.
“Once I got over the fact that I had to move,” McCutchen said, “the more I started to look at it and get some positivity out of it. And that’s one way to look at it. I’m playing at a position and a spot of a guy that you idolize: Clemente. He set the standard for someone that I would love to be like, even half that guy. So it’s an honor to be out there playing that position.”
Short of something happening to Carlos Martinez, Tuesday’s news was about as lousy for a Cardinals fan on day one of spring workouts as you could imagine. Reyes was one important adjustment — pitch efficiency — from being one of the team’s most bankable commodities in preventing runs, the area where the team broke down in 2016. He struck out 52 batters in 46 major league innings last season. He also walked 23. He wasn’t a finished product.
Now, Cardinals fans might have to confine those fantasies to two years down the road and, even with advances in medicine and physical therapy, major surgery still involves an element of mystery.