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Andrew McCutchen on moving out of center field: ‘It wasn’t an ask’

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds - Game One Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Most of what’s come from Andrew McCutchen this spring as he moves from center field to right has been positive, and McCutchen’s initial response to the move was great. Today, though, he had some choice quotes for ESPN’s Jayson Stark and other reporters.

When the Pirates abruptly informed him last month that he was going to shift over to right field this season, "it wasn't an ask," McCutchen said Friday morning, on the first day of what could be his last spring training as a Pirate. "It was more of a 'say.' It was 'I have to move there.'" ...

"That was one of the first times that that was something I wanted to go against," McCutchen said, on the day he attempted to put his tumultuous, trade-rumor-filled offseason behind him. "It wasn't something I was ready for or I wanted to do. But as I keep saying that, I'm talking about myself. So I just had to not be as selfish and just accept that that's what I had to do and move over to right." ...

"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."

There’s more in the article, which I encourage you to read. To McCutchen’s credit, he discusses wrestling with the issue, and ultimately mentions the Roberto Clemente connection he made before as a way of finding something positive in the move. And, of course, he isn’t required to like being moved off the position he’s always played. He also says he’s looking forward to moving past the reasons he was a topic of discussion this offseason, and instead focusing on playing.

McCutchen’s defensive decline was, by all available evidence, very real, and his move out of center field was overdue. It’s not his job to see that, and if he were the sort of person to immediately understand and appreciate it, he might not have the confident mindset he needs to be a successful ballplayer. It’s not surprising that he had a hard time with the move, and it’s good that he’s been honest about it. Now, though, the best thing for him to do is to let it go, and it sounds like that’s what he hopes to do.