04/04/2013 2:56 AM ET
McCutchen's aggressive baserunning pays off
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- At about 8:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Andrew McCutchen might have been regretting having spoken so openly about being more aggressive on the bases in 2013.
Hector Rondon, or someone giving the reliever directions from the Cubs bench, seemed fixated on that promise. McCutchen drew a leadoff walk and spent most of the rest of the inning on his stomach, diving back to first base to survive pickoff throws.
"My legs were getting tired. All that on a cold night," McCutchen said.
At the time, McCutchen also had a thought: "I am going to get to second, so he can't throw for me anymore."
After Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez had both struck out, McCutchen did take off. Lowering himself into the headfirst slide he now uses, he again found himself on his stomach, but this time looking at Starlin Castro's knees. The Chicago shortstop had moved in front of the bag for catcher Welington Castillo's short throw.
The ball and McCutchen both reached the bag about the same time.
"Not good when all you see in front of you are the guy's legs," McCutchen said. "I just curled up and went in with my arms folded. Then I saw the ball just laying there so, 'OK, I'm in.'"
The steal was No. 100 of his career, and made him 2-for-2 in this young season.
"Small sample, but very encouraging to see," manager Clint Hurdle said of McCutchen pushing the envelope on the bases. "Actions speak louder than words. In the winter, we talk about a lot of things, and his intent is to make the words jump off the paper and become real."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.