McCutchen again shows why he's special

Andrew McCutchen

Every once in awhile, Andrew McCutchen will remind everyone all at once what makes him one of baseball's best most dynamic performers.

McCutchen had been off to a so-so .265 start to August, but he erupted for a two-run homer, four runs out of the leadoff spot, two stolen bases, three walks and a hit batsman in the 9-2 rout of the Giants on Wednesday in San Francisco. That's a terrific mix of power, production and speed as well as his usual steady defense.

"It's just a matter of being patient and waiting for a pitch to hit," McCutchen said. "That's the plan all of us kept the whole game. My game, regardless of where I am in the lineup, is to get on base and create some havoc. I can use a bunt to get on base, walk ... this was just one of those days."

McCutchen, a first-time All-Star this summer, has persevered through a parade of defeats in Pittsburgh as well as a constant change of roles in the lineup, from leadoff to No. 3 to cleanup and now back at the top of the order. He never has complained, never has bemoaned his fate.

"I don't worry about things I can't control," McCutchen said. "I've said it a lot, but I don't care where they put me in the lineup."

It seems no clearer now than when McCutchen arrived in Pittsburgh two years ago what his long-term place in the lineup will be. His home run was his 16th, so there is reason to believe he could be a run-producer in the heart of the order, something the Pirates sorely lack. But he also has been efficient at reaching base and more aggressive at trying to steal when he's at leadoff.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Jeff Karstens, the Pirates' ERA leader at 3.04, won for the first time in five starts by limiting the Giants to two runs and eight hits over six innings. His command was far better than his previous start, when he was rocked for a season-high nine runs.

--1B Derrek Lee was a late scratch because of recurring pain in his bruised left hand, which was hit by a pitch last weekend. The Pirates are off Thursday, so manager Clint Hurdle elected to give him back-to-back days off.

--RHP Kevin Hart, who has not pitched for the Pirates since two springs ago, had a second surgery on his right shoulder performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. The team tentatively expects Hart to be ready for next spring training, but his career appears to be in jeopardy.

--RHP Mike Crotta, who opened the season in the Pittsburgh bullpen, was placed on waivers for the purpose of giving him a release. But the team and player are expected to reach agreement on a new contract if he clears.

--LHP Rudy Owens, one of the Pirates' top prospects, was placed on the minor league disabled list with Class AAA Indianapolis because of shoulder fatigue. Owens had begun to turn around a rocky season but struggled in his last two starts.

BY THE NUMBERS: 81 -- Double plays turned this season by 2B Neil Walker, most in the National League. Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who instructs Walker each spring, led the league eight times.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Hey, they didn't throw me many strikes. What was I supposed to do?" -- CF Andrew McCutchen on hitting a two-run homer to go 1-for-1 with three walks and a hit batsman Wednesday.

ROSTER REPORT
MEDICAL WATCH:

--INF Chase D'Arnaud (fractured right pinkie) went on the 15-day disabled list July 27. He actually could have kept playing, but the Pirates needed pitching help after a 19-inning game July 26. He began a rehab assignment at Class A Bradenton on Aug. 8.

--LF Alex Presley (bruised left thumb) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 23. He had resumed tossing as of Aug. 2, but he had yet to resume batting practice as of Aug. 4.

--RHP Chris Leroux (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 28. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis on Aug. 4.

--LF Jose Tabata (strained left quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 27. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Bradenton on July 13, but he had a setback July 14. He returned to action with Bradenton on July 19, but he experienced another setback July 20 and was shut down again. He started a new rehab assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis on Aug. 6.

--RHP Evan Meek (right shoulder tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. It's his second DL stint for the same ailment this season. His velocity dipped, but Meek said he did not feel pain. He had his shoulder examined June 13 by Dr. James Andrews. Meek was cleared of any major injury, but he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 21. He was scheduled to begin throwing during the first weekend of August, but he isn't expected back until September.

--RHP Ross Ohlendorf (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 30. He threw off flat ground for the first time April 17. Ohlendorf threw from 120 feet April 26, and he threw two bullpen sessions in late April. He pitched his first live batting practice May 3 and threw another May 6. He had a setback, but he resumed throwing over the second weekend of May. He began throwing off a mound in late May, and he started a rehab stint with Class A Bradenton on July 14. He moved his rehab assignment to Class AAA Indianapolis on July 29. He was scheduled for one more rehab start before joining the Pirates and was expected to work on his sinker after going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two rehab starts for Indianapolis.

--RHP Kevin Hart (right shoulder surgery in May 2010) went on the 60-day disabled list March 18. He was throwing in Bradenton, Fla., in mid-April, but he was shut down in late June. He then underwent another surgery on his shoulder in early August, and his career could be in jeopardy.

--C Chris Snyder (herniated disk in lower back) went on the 15-day disabled list June 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He had surgery in mid-June. Snyder said July 6 that he still hopes to play this season.

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