By Sam Bush
With all the hoo-hah about Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen is hiding in plain sight.
Signed to a $50 million, three-year contract, the 32-year-old McCutchen is set to start in left. He returns to the National League after finishing up last season with the New York Yankees – he spent his first nine seasons in Pittsburgh, joined San Francisco last year and then was traded to the Bronx.
The five-time All-Star hit a combined .255 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs last season.
McCutchen said he is coming into camp knowing that Phillies have a surplus of outfielders, with Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr looking for time in the lineup.
”There are no set spots,” McCutchen said. ”We’ve got a lot of guys out who are competing for positions and that’s a good thing to have in camp.”
”’Everybody is out there working hard. Working to win the job or even if they don’t they know they could be the next man up. The competition is good for the outfield as a whole,” he said.
While speculation swirls that the Phillies are in the mix for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, McCutchen said he sees a lot of upside in the current group of outfielders in camp. He compares them to his former teammates with the Pirates.
”It’s similar to when I was on the Pirates with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco,” McCutchen said. ”We were able to work together, challenge each other and grow together.”
”I’m happy to be here to help facilitate that here. We will be able to help each other out and I can share my knowledge and my experience,” he said.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has raved about McCutchen’s versatility and his ability to hit anywhere in the lineup, suggesting he’ll use him at the top of the order when the situation presents itself.
McCutchen will likely start out around the middle of the lineup when spring games start Friday.
”I can hit anywhere you put me,” McCutchen said. ”I’ve been up and down the lineup and there’s not one place that I’m way more comfortable at than another. I’m comfortable leading off, hitting third, fifth, sixth whatever. I’ve done it all.”