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Pittsburgh Pirates Fan Favorite Andrew McCutchen Is Back in the Black and Gold

McCutchen, who returns to the Pirates after several years away, is training with the team at LECOM Park in Bradenton.

By Megan McDonald February 24, 2023

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen

It’s going to be 47 degrees Fahrenheit in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, but as Pirates fans file into Bradenton's LECOM Park for the team's first game of spring training, the local forecast calls for blue skies, sunshine and 82 degrees.

And this year, things are looking brighter than ever. Not only can local Pirates fans expect a full slate of games after three years of shortened or delayed spring training seasons, but All-Star Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is back in the black and gold after several years away.

McCutchen—or “Cutch,” as he’s affectionately known—played for the Pirates from 2009 to 2018, led the team to the playoffs every year from 2013 to 2015 and was named the National League MVP in 2013. But, in 2018, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants and he spent the next few years bouncing around the league, playing for the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers before signing a one-year $5 million contract to return to the Pirates in January.

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“I’m overly excited,” McCutchen says. “To have this opportunity to be able to come back [to the Pirates]—you don’t always get that chance, but I was hoping I would. This place is a part of me.”

McCutchen, 36, is now a veteran, but he insists his return to the Pirates is not a farewell tour. “I’m here to play and I’m here to help this ball club win,” he says.

Pirates fans were ecstatic at the news of McCutchen's signing, and Cutch’s return dominated local news in Pittsburgh. One diehard fan, talking to Pittsburgh’s local sports radio station, said he was so happy that he pulled his car over and started to cry.

In Bradenton, the reaction was the same.

“I am thoroughly excited,” says Mike Roteman, a Pittsburgh native who is president of the Pirates Booster Club, an all-volunteer group that serves as ushers, greeters and program hawkers at LECOM Park. “Spring training was cut short in 2020 because of Covid-19. Two years ago, it was still restricted because of Covid, and then last year, it was delayed because of the lockout. This is the first time in three years we’re back to normal.”

Roteman adds that, in addition to McCutchen’s return, he’s equally optimistic about young players like shortstop Oneil Cruz and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. “We’ve got a bunch of great young talent, and then when you bring in Cutch and consider all he’s done, he’s going to be a leader and teach the young players to learn to be winners. I expect him to hit at least 20 home runs,” Roteman says.

The Pirates’ spring training schedule kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 25, against the Toronto Blue Jays. They’ll play the Baltimore Orioles—who train at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium—on Feb. 28, March 3, March 8, March 14, March 19 and March 25, and the Atlanta Braves, who train at North Port’s CoolToday Park, on March 12 and March 26. The team’s full schedule is available at, where fans can also purchase tickets to games.

“I feel like I can be helpful and beneficial this year,” McCutchen says. “This team is really special.”

For more information about the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training schedule, including player and ticketing info, click here.

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