ATLANTA -- Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen was absent from the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Braves, just the star center fielder's third off-day of the season. To justify that decision, manager Clint Hurdle provided a straightforward answer with some high-tech context.
"He's been running around a lot," Hurdle said. "We have a way of measuring the distance our players cover on the ground all day. We found out that at this point last year -- I know there's two more games, a few less days -- but actually, his activity has spiked from where it was last year, which was a lot last year."
The organization started tracking the mileage of their players last year, and Hurdle touted the technology's usefulness as a barometer for the work each player puts in over the course of a game. As would be expected, the center fielder typically covers the most ground.
"Last year, [McCutchen] was having probably more of an upside on offense as far as running the bases from an offensive standpoint," Hurdle said. "So you might think he put in more time last year compared to this year and it's not, it's actually flipped. So that means maybe he's running down a lot of balls? I don't know. But we gotta be mindful of how much ground he is covering. We've actually hand-picked some days. We picked this day a while ago."
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.