MILWAUKEE -- Named to participate in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby just two days before the event, replacing injured Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen didn't have much time to answer the oft-repeated question: Will competing in the Derby negatively impact a second-half swing?
On Friday, McCutchen offered a small-sample answer with his bat.
The All-Star outfielder went 3-for-4 with a home run in the ninth inning against Brewers closer John Axford, going deep for the second straight game and notching his third three-hit game in four tries.
"If I think it's going to mess up my swing, I wouldn't have done it," McCutchen said. "If you ask guys, anyone who does the Home Run Derby, if they feel like it's going to mess up their swing, they wouldn't do it. Left-handers are more susceptible to maybe changing their swing a little bit because their swings are just loopier than a right-hander's swing. I don't have a loop in my swing, I'm more straight to the ball, so I can't really alter that. Just put a good swing on the ball and it'll go out."
The theory gains steam from anecdotal cases such as Bobby Abreu in 2005, who put on a show to win the Home Run Derby in San Francisco but clubbed just six second-half homers after 18 in the first half.
"I don't subscribe to the theory," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who has served as batting-practice pitcher for the event in the past. "Andrew went in with a great attitude. He took his high school coach [Jon Spradlin], who was probably as nervous as [McCutchen] was. It was him just trying to have some fun and experience something new.
"I didn't see any residual fallout from the guys I wound up throwing to -- [Jeff] Bagwell, [Jeromy] Burnitz, [Ken] Griffey or [Larry] Walker; they all had pretty solid second halves. Guys can not have good second halves for a number of reasons. We grab [the Home Run Derby] because it's a big event. I felt very confident [McCutchen] would come back with the same mindset he's had since Opening Day, and that's been stay on the fastball, focus right-center field and whatever happens, happens."
McCutchen hit four homers in the first round in Kansas City on Monday and did not advance to the second round.