Notes: McCutchen seizes opportunity

Notes: McCutchen seizes his opportunity

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andrew McCutchen has patrolled left field for the Pirates during the last two games, but that doesn't mean he'll be leaving his home in center field any time soon.

Pirates manager Jim Tracy dispelled rumors that McCutchen may shift positions, and said the motivation behind the move was simply to increase McCutchen's playing time without subtracting from others.

"When you find opportunities to get this kid involved, and get him at-bats against Major League pitching, if you have to go to left field to do it in order to continue to get other guys a shot, that's the sole purpose," Tracy said Thursday after a 9-7 loss against Cincinnati. "This is a very special player."

McCutchen held his own in left during the Grapefruit League opener and made a statement at the plate as well, going 2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI. To him, he said, the main goal is to get to Pittsburgh. He's happy to know he anchors the outfield and that he will likely remain in the middle, but made it clear at once that, should the occasion arise, he's willing to do what needs to be done.

"I play every position, so I'm comfortable in every spot," McCutchen said. "Regardless of where they put me, I'm still going to perform well. I'm used to each spot. It's the outfield; you're still catching and throwing the ball, just from different angles. It doesn't matter where I am."

Matos earns praise: Center fielder Luis Matos hit back-to-back home runs in his first two at-bats Thursday to drive in two runs. It was a much-needed breath of fresh air for Matos, who struggled at the plate at times throughout last season, although his fielding remained consistent.

Matos proved that his defense hasn't strayed during Monday's intrasquad game when he gunned down a teammate at home who was trying to tag up on the fly.

"He's a capable Major League player, and he's going to be an interesting guy for us to continue to follow as we go along here this Spring," Tracy said.

Last call: Fifteen Pirates have not come to terms on their 2007 contracts as of Thursday afternoon: Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, Paul Maholm, Juan Perez, Romulo Sanchez, Shane Youman, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino, Jose Bautista, Brad Eldred, Rajai Davis, Chris Duffy, Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan and Ian Snell, although Snell said he'd probably sign later in the day.

On Friday, those who haven't signed will have their contracts renewed automatically, and could be fined $5,000 by the Pirates.

Nady returns: Outfielder Xavier Nady returned to Bradenton on Thursday after flying to Pittsburgh for a colonoscopy earlier in the week, but did not join the team at McKechnie Field. General manager Dave Littlefield said there was no immediate news on Nady's condition.

Front office moves: Tim Schuldt, the Pirates vice president and chief marketing and sales officer, resigned to pursue a career with Motorsports Authentics in Charlotte, N.C. Schuldt, who was with Pittsburgh for nearly three years, visited Pirate City earlier in the week .

"He has done a great job working with our excellent sales and marketing team in advancing our business," said Pirates chief executive officer Kevin McClatchy. "We wish him nothing but success moving forward."

Game added: Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will play a six-inning "B" game at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at Pirate City.

Difference in culture: The throng of Japanese media in attendance during Pirates chairman of the board of directors Bob Nutting's visit was amazed at how jovial Nutting was as he walked on the field to chat with Japanese right-hander Masumi Kuwata.

"In Japan, the owners are very high up," said Satoko Sano, of the Sports Nippon Newspapers. "To see [Nutting] here today, talking with [Kuwata], it was very surprising to us."

He said it: "Front foot forward, back foot around, bend the knees deeply, slide the bat down. Eyes and bat tied, let the body glide, heels on the ground, bunt the ball down." -- Third base coach Jeff Cox, explaining proper bunting techniques

Up next: The Pirates travel to Kissimmee on Friday for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Right-hander Ian Snell will start for Pittsburgh against righty John Smoltz.

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.