By Evan Brunell
Manager Clint Hurdle saw so much potential in Andre McCutchen's bat that he inserted the center fielder into the No. 3 spot to start the year.
It took just 11 games for Hurdle to change his mind and return McCutchen to the leadoff spot after he hit .220/.333/.415 with two doubles and homers apiece. That power was still there, but McCutchen's hits just weren't coming. Since then, he's raking at a .253/.346/.462 clip with five blasts coming into Wednesday's game, which becomes all the more impressive once you notice that four of his homers have come since April 29. His batting line since: .326/.396/.651.
"It's been so close at times where he is holding his backside good and he's getting that barrel out in front of him," Hurdle said. "And then you saw a night like [Monday in a 1-for-5 performance] where it was just a click off and he hit four flat balls. He just wasn't on time. Then he shows up [Tuesday; 3-for-4 with two homers] where he holds that backside and he's squaring that ball up. It looks so effortless. He's been close."
Hurdle doesn't plan on removing McCutchen from the leadoff spot anytime soon. While his future remains at No. 3 in the order, it makes complete sense to keep McCutchen atop the order to build up his numbers and confidence.
"I feel a little different," McCutchen said before posting an 0-for-4 game with two whiffs Wednesday agains Hiroki Kuroda, who stifled the entire team. "I feel a little more comfortable as far as my swing goes. It's just all about putting it together. I've been getting my hits here and there, feeling fairly well. Things are starting to turn around."
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