7/22/2014 9:14 P.M. ET
Cutch, Pirates make 12-year-old's wish come true
By Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Matthew Beichner sat with his family waiting to eat lunch in center field of his favorite team's ballpark when they were joined by an unexpected, yet welcomed visitor. The Beichners were guests in his domain, after all.
Andrew McCutchen shared crab legs and laughs with Matthew, and the lunch was just the beginning of a memorable day. Matthew, a 12-year-old who has been diagnosed with Germinoma, had his dreams play out in front of him as he not only met his favorite player, but signed a one-day contract, got his own jersey and locker in the Pirates' clubhouse and threw out the first pitch before the Bucs faced the Dodgers on Tuesday night. The team partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make the events possible.
"It was one of the best days ever," said Matthew at a news conference where he was all smiles.
Matthew is a Colorado Springs, Colo., native, but has grown up a Pirates fan as his dad is a native of New Castle, Pa. His parents and sister made the trip with him and were all present at the lunch table with the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. Matthew's father, Rick, said 12-14 family members were in attendance for the game to watch his son take the mound.
"It's amazing, it's more than we ever could have wished for," Matthew's mother, Kim, said, fighting back tears. "I'm glad we get to do it with everything he's been through."
Matthew's interactions with McCutchen -- who he called his favorite player because "he's fast like me" -- didn't end after they ate. The duo played catch on the field, and Matthew saw McCutchen take batting practice up close and personal.
Matthew, an up-and-comer on the diamond where he mainly plays shortstop and pitcher, said he didn't ask for any tips from the five-year Major League veteran. In fact, it was the other way around.
"I need his advice," McCutchen said. "I'd put up my glove to catch, and he hit my glove every single time. I was like, 'All right, how do you do that?'"
"I'm pretty good to be playing MLB at 12 years old," Matthew joked.
Of course, Matthew doesn't get to play baseball as much as he'd like, dealing with hospital visits and various treatments, including chemotherapy. But, make no mistake, he laces up his cleats and puts on his glove as much as he can.
"He has handled everything like a champ," Kim added. "He very rarely complains. He still has days he doesn't feel good or aches or whatever. But he powers through and does what he has to do. He played baseball while he was still undergoing chemo."
And Matthew hasn't just played, he's played extremely well.
"He spent a week in the hospital, got out on Wednesday and threw a no-hitter on Saturday," Rick said. "I'm so proud of him."
Harrison named Bucs' Heart & Hustle Award winner
PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison has been the Pirates' spark this season, playing the game with an edge that has inspired his teammates and drawn the admiration of fans.
"His enthusiasm and energy drips on the other guys as well," said manager Clint Hurdle, describing Harrison's impact.
Quite fittingly, then, Harrison on Tuesday was named the Bucs' winner for the 2014 Heart & Hustle Award, presented since 2005 by the MLB Players Alumni Association to the player on each of the 30 clubs who "demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game."
The Pirates' winner the past two seasons was Andrew McCutchen.
The overall MLB winner of this award -- the only one voted upon by former Major League players -- will be announced on Nov. 18, 2014, at the 15th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City.
"Josh uses everything he has and embodies professionalism that separates Major Leaguers from ballplayers," said Steve Blass, the former Pirates righty who is a member of the MLBPAA. "His energy and passion is contagious."
Alvarez departs with left knee discomfort
PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez left the Pirates' Tuesday night game against the Dodgers in the fifth inning with left knee discomfort.
Alvarez had doubled to lead off the bottom of the fourth against Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett and tagged up and went to third as Jordy Mercer flied out to the warning track in left-center. Alvarez seemed to be limping slightly on his way and, after being stranded at third, was removed from the game at the start of the fifth.
Josh Harrison replaced Alvarez at third base.
First number, last word
31: Runners caught stealing this season by the Pirates, through Monday's game, which is tied for the National League lead with the Giants; in 2012, the season prior to the arrival of catcher Russell Martin, the Bucs were last in the Majors with 19 runners caught stealing.
"It's an honor to even hear my name mentioned in the conversation. But I am not interested. I've got unfinished business here, to get us over the top." -- Pirates club president Frank Coonelly, who has considerable experience in the Commissioner's Office and was mentioned as a possible person of interest early in the process to select Bud Selig's successor.
• Starling Marte was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday, but it had nothing to do with how he felt after going 0-for-4 Monday in his first extensive action since getting beaned on Friday. Hurdle wanted to give primary left-handed pinch-hitter Travis Snider some reps at bat.
"[Marte's] health is fine," Hurdle said. "I've been trying to get bench guys in there periodically, to keep them fresh after the [All-Star] break."
• Colorado catcher Michael McKenry's home run in Sunday's game, it turns out, was the 38th hit by visitors at PNC Park this season; all last year, visitors hit 37 home runs at PNC Park.
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. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.