Aug 1, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) hits a single during first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY
PITTSBURGH --- Andrew McCutchen is ready to return from the disabled list and he can’t get back soon enough.
The center fielder said he was ready for play after taking batting practice and running the bases prior to Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park.
McCutchen has been out since Aug. 4 with a fracture in his lower left ribcage. Before Monday's game, the Pirates had gone 5-8 since he went on the and had fallen 5½ games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central and 1 ½ games out in the wild card standings.
“I felt pretty good out there,” said McCutchen, who hit against Cam Inman, a reliever with the Pirates’ Class AA Altoona farm club. “I made some good contact with some balls. I pretty much did everything. Swings and misses, check swung, fouled balls off and none of it bothered me. I'm ready to go.”
While the Pirates never publicly gave a timetable for McCutchen’s return, they privately expected him to miss a month when he was first injured. He has beaten that timetable by nearly two weeks.
McCutchen won the National League Most Valuable Player award last season and is a contender to repeat as he is hitting .311 with 17 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 109 games.
McCutchen said his biggest concern was how his ribs would feel when he swung against live pitching. He was relieved that he experienced no pain.
“If that felt good then I know I’m going to feel good when I get into a game,” he said.
As a precaution, McCutchen will wear padding around his ribcage for the remainder of the season. The padding will provide both protection and compression.
“It’s still going to be sore every now and then, I’m sure,” McCutchen said. “The last thing you want is to get hit in the same spot or something like that. You get hit there, you can't control that, so you want to be prepared if something like that was to happen. What I have on, that'll do the job for me.”