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Andrew McCutchen eager to play in hitter friendly ballpark

The Associated Press
| Tuesday, December 18, 2018 6:03 p.m
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Philadelphia Phillies new outfielder Andrew McCutchen finalized a back-loaded $50 million, three-year contract last week, a deal that includes a team option for 2022.
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Philadelphia Phillies new outfielder Andrew McCutchen accompanied by his son Steel speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. McCutchen and the Philadelphia Phillies finalized a back-loaded $50 million, three-year contract last week, a deal that includes a team option for 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Philadelphia Phillies new outfielder Andrew McCutchen accompanied by his son Steel speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. McCutchen and the Philadelphia Phillies finalized a back-loaded $50 million, three-year contract last week, a deal that includes a team option for 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA — Andrew McCutchen returned to the Keystone state to join his third team in less than 12 months, intent on regaining his old hitting stroke.

The Philadelphia Phillies introduced their newest outfielder at a news conference Tuesday, a week after giving him a $50 million, three-year contract that includes a team option for 2022 and could be worth $62 million over four seasons.

“This is a game of adjustments,” McCutchen said. “I’ve definitely had to make some adjustments over the years, and I know that I can be even better than what I’ve been over the past few (seasons). There has been a decline, yes, but I do understand what I’m capable of doing.

McCutchen hit .255 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs in 155 games this year for San Francisco and the New York Yankees. His average was a career-low and his homers and RBIs were his fewest since 2010. He spent his first nine years in Pittsburgh and was the 2013 NL Most Valuable Player.

“I know I can be better, and that’s what I’ve been doing all offseason: preparing and working, and that’s not going to stop,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being even better than I’ve been. I’m never satisfied, and I don’t settle with what I’ve done. That’s just the person I am.”

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler gave up his No. 22 and presented McCutchen with his first red pinstriped jersey. He said McCutchen will bat anywhere from first through fifth and will play a corner outfield spot.

“He’s a guy who consistently puts up 600 plate appearances,” said Kapler, who will wear No. 19. “He’s been extremely durable, and he wants to play for us every day.”

The 32-year-old McCutchen was an All-Star each season from 2011-15, topping .300 in batting average from 2012-14. He has 223 homers, a .287 average and 790 RBIs in 10 major league seasons. His on-base percentage (.378) is higher than anyone else on Philadelphia’s current roster and his slugging percentage (.481) is second only to Rhys Hoskins (.525).

“I’ve never played an entire season in a hitter’s park. I’m looking forward to that,” McCutchen said of hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

Hoskins came out to see McCutchen and talked about the team’s offseason moves. The Phillies acquired shortstop Jean Segura from Seattle and are pursuing free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

“I think we’ve (added) some pretty good baseball players so far, really exciting,” Hoskins said. “A couple of more veteran guys in Segura and Cutch, which I really think will add to the clubhouse presence and just kind of overall environment, especially when we get late in the year. These guys have been through that. And it will be nice for the bulk of us to be able to lean on them and kind of get us through that.”

Hoskins and Harper share an agent, Scott Boras, so Hoskins has talked to the 2015 NL MVP.

“It’s just more of me offering any look at to what this city is like, what the organization is like, what the clubhouse is like, what Kap is like,” Hoskins said. “It’s not me offering information to him. If he wants it, and I’ve expressed this to him, that I am here for a chat if he wants it and it’d help.”

McCutchen hasn’t been part of any recruiting process but is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Phillies improve. Philadelphia finished 80-82 last season after leading the NL East on Aug. 11.

“I saw this team from afar and played against them, and I saw what they were able to do this season,” McCutchen said. “They fell a little short, but something I realize is that it’s there. I’m happy to be a part of it and help push this team forward to winning a championship.”

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