By John Perrotto
Andrew McCutchen said he wasn’t nervous about making his major-league debut and he certainly didn’t seem that way.
The 22-year-old walked into the Pirates’ clubhouse two hours before game time Thursday morning wearing a knit cap like looked like the one Tito Jackson used to sport during the Jackson 5’s heyday.
McCutchen accepted congratulatory handshakes and hugs after being called up from Class AAA Indianapolis, took batting practice then looked like he had been in the major leagues for 10 years in an 11-6 win over the New York Mets at PNC Park.
Batting leadoff and playing center field less than 24 hours after All-Star and Gold Glove winner Nate McLouth had been traded to Atlanta for three minor-leaguers, McCutchen went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, an RBI, a stolen base and a walk.
“I was excited about getting the call but kind of surprised that they traded McLouth to open a spot for me,” McCutchen said. “I thought they considered him ‘the guy,’ so it says to me the Pirates must think a lot of me to want me to replace him. I don’t look at it as pressure at all but a compliment. I’m not a guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself. I don’t look it like I’m replacing anybody but that I’m here because I deserve to be here.”
McCutchen hit .303 with 10 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 20 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 41 runs scored, a .361 on base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage in 49 games at Indianapolis.
He picked up where he left off in his first big-league game.
McCutchen made an impact right away as he took
the first three pitches he saw from Mike Pelfrey in his first plate appearance in the bottom of the first then slapped a single into center field.
“Getting a hit in my first at bat made things a lot easier,” McCutchen said. “It was like a weight was taken off my shoulders right away and we could just go from there. After that, it seemed like the same game I’ve been playing my whole life.
“It was fun, though. It was quite the experience.”
Pirates left fielder Nyjer Morgan, who was moved down a spot to No. 2 in the batting order with the arrival of McCutchen, marveled at the play of his new teammate.
“There’s the future right there,” Morgan said. “This is only the beginning. He’s a helluva player. Nate is a great player, too, and we’re going to miss him but Andrew can do some things. He’s an exciting player and people are going to love him.”