Young outfielders perk up Bucs’ camp
BRADENTON, Fla. — It was a few minutes past 8 a.m. Monday, and many denizens in the clubhouse at Pirate City were still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. Suddenly, the room seemed to brighten and buzz.
The M&M Guys had arrived.
Outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge checked into spring training well ahead of the midnight deadline for position players. They tugged on uniforms and went through a full workout, a day ahead of the first official full-squad drills.
“I’ve been ready,” McCutchen said. “I was tired of working out (alone). It seemed like a long offseason to me. I’m really excited about what we have and what we’re preparing for. I’m ready to get it started.”
Although he has barely four months experience in the majors, McCutchen, 23, is rapidly becoming a team leader. He and Milledge, 25, are rarely far apart and feed off each other’s buoyant personalities.
“I just come in and joke around,” McCutchen said. “We have a lot of fun with it because … why not?”
By 9 a.m. yesterday, all 66 players invited to big-league camp had checked in. About a dozen position players have been at Pirate City since last week.
“That’s kind of unheard of,” manager John Russell said. “It’s been a good turnout. Having the facility down here really makes a difference. A lot of the cold weather up north this winter probably helped push some guys down here earlier.
“They’re all here and ready to go, and I think they’re looking forward to (Tuesday). Coming down that early, they really wanted to get out on the field with the rest of us.”
Of the 24 position players in camp, 19 took batting practice and did fielding drills. Those who didn’t work out were undergoing physical exams.
“He opened the box, and there was a Nationals jacket. I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He threw it away quick.”
On helping Lastings Milledge unpack after arriving at Pirate City
138 — Games in which Lastings Milledge played for the Washington Nationals before joining the Pirates.
123 — Days of major-league service time for Andrew McCutchen.