ATLANTA -- The Pirates have encouraged Andrew McCutchen to run, giving him a green light to do so almost 100 percent of the time. And McCutchen knows he needs to run in order to maximize his game-changing speed.
Yet, before Monday, the outfielder had not attempted a stolen base since June 25. So why would a runner who had swiped 15 bases in 20 attempts in the first 74 games of the season stop running? It turns out that the only thing standing in McCutchen's way, he will admit, is himself.
"I've had opportunities to go. Sometimes I just don't," McCutchen said on Tuesday. "I need to start trusting my instincts more. I always want to be perfect every time I'm on the bag. I want everything to work and click right. But five times out of 10 that's not going to happen. I need to rely on my speed and rely on my instincts to go."
Perhaps Monday's steal of third base will be the jumpstart McCutchen needs to get running again.
The Pirates' coaching staff has encouraged McCutchen to keep taking chances, even if it means being thrown out from time to time. Manager Clint Hurdle also dismissed any idea that McCutchen's stalled stolen base attempts have anything to do with him moving out of the leadoff spot and down into the No. 3 or 4 place in the order.
McCutchen is finding that pitchers are doing a better job holding him on by incorporating slide steps and a quicker motion to the plate. But even that hasn't proven to be as much of an obstacle as McCutchen's own hesitancy.
"With Andrew, he's just got to push the envelope," Hurdle said. "Last night he found a zone and put a foot down to where he said, 'I've just got to go.' There's more in there. I believe last night he might have pushed through that uncomfortable zone and know that he needs to get that club back in his bag and put it to use."
McCutchen stole 33 bases in 43 attempts in 2010, which was his first full Major League season.