McCutchen shows athleticism on road trip
Clint Hurdle doesn't think Andrew McCutchen's knee is impacting his performance — at least not any longer.
"I think he just put in one of the most athletic performances he has [this year] in the outfield the weekend in St. Louis," Hurdle said. "I think the more we talk about his physical presence being diminished, we're looking in the wrong direction."
Hurdle added that McCutchen posted some of his fastest times on the base paths on the road trip.
"From an athletic standpoint, I'm not sure that is a concern right now," Hurdle said. "We have a conversation with him every day. His comments the last few days have been ‘I feel [really] good.'"
McCutchen is taking measures to preserve his knees and reduce stress on his legs. For example, he is trying to be more selective in his effort when running out routine grounders.
"I think we've all grown so accustomed to that man getting out of that box and that helmet coming off and those dreads flying down the line when he's been healthy," Hurdle said. "I think he is trying to make sure that he's got everything he needs when he plays defense and when he gets on base. Not that he's not going to run balls out hard, he's just going to monitor [it]."
Finally Hurdle didn't want to speculate about whether aching knees partly explained McCutchen's slow start, but he agreed it was a possible explanation.
"I do think the legs play a part in a swing," Hurdle said. "Your foundation is important, so could it have played in, absolutely."
Harrison's working off day
Josh Harrison is not in the lineup tonight. Jung-Ho Kang will start at third and bat seventh.
Although he is not starting, Clint Hurdle described today was a "work day" for Harrison. Specifically, he is spending time recalibrating his swing mechanics.
"It's him getting separation in his stance," Hurdle said. "It's when he is going to the stride position. It's about getting his foot down and holding his backside and keeping his weight where it needs to be."
By widening his stance and planting his left foot earlier, he'll keep the weight off of his front side.
"He's had the tendency throughout the season, at times, where the weight is transferring from back to front, the term we use is falling into your swing," Hurdle said. "Once you put that foot down there is a hesitation, then you can get your swing off. So that is the one thing he is working on."
It is fair to say that the Kang experiment is off to an encouraging start, both on the field and in the clubhouse.
"His teammates love him," Hurdle said. "He's integrated very well out there. He's making a difference for us right now and he will continue to do so, I believe."
Hurdle said that Kang hasn't met his expectations because, well, he didn't have any.
"I didn't have any expectations, unlike many people in Pittsburgh," Hurdle said. "I wanted to let him come in and play and find out what he can do. All the people that had expectations, I don't know how many of them actually saw him play. And the people that saw him play work for us, and I talked to those people. And they've been spot on about what they thought he could do."
What was it that the organization saw from him in the Korean Baseball Organization?
"A very dependable arm, very accurate," Hurdle said. "He's got some natural leverage, lift to his swing, which plays and is a skill and a gift. At times he's going to guess and take some funny-looking swings. His awareness in the box is in a very good place."
Charlie Morton is in Pittsburgh and is scheduled to have a bullpen session tomorrow.