PITTSBURGH -- It is only the middle of May, but Andrew McCutchen has already weathered two long slumps this young season. In late April, he went through a career-long 1-for-28 drought, and he dealt more recently with a 2-for-19 drag.
He stormed out of the former with seven hits in his next three games. The latter preceded his 12th-inning walk-off homer that sealed Tuesday night's 4-3 win over the Brewers.
The trends vouch for McCutchen's often-expressed manifesto, placing greater emphasis on the process than on the results. The approach acknowledges that one cannot help if hard-hit balls are caught; all one can do is keep hitting the balls hard.
It is all well and good, and the trusted way from a .266 average to the .327 that McCutchen hit in 2012. But, he was asked point blank, how difficult is it for younger players to retain that confidence without the protection of six-year, $51.5 million contracts?
"It's different if you're heading to arbitration or concerned about other forms of negotiation," McCutchen said. "It can be tough, because it's a numbers game. No one is going to credit you for having hit the ball hard. They will point to what you hit.
"So it can definitely be stressful. But you just have to stay positive and believe in yourself and in what you are doing."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.