McCutchen to return when he reaches '100 percent'

Center fielder, manager not concerned about spring games missed

McCutchen to return when he reaches '100 percent'

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andrew McCutchen remained inactive on Sunday with an "injury" that obviously concerns other people a lot more than it does him.

The quotation marks signify that attributing his absence to injury is dubious. General discomfort caused McCutchen to be scratched from Friday's lineup. The affected area has been described as "lower body," and McCutchen offered a little clarification.

"I've just been trying to get my legs under me," McCutchen said. "When you get back to baseball stuff after all the offseason workouts, it just takes a little time. I don't want to get back out there until I'm 100 percent."

That could be Tuesday, following the team's off-day on Monday. Or, from the standpoint of reaching and comforting a wider slice of a slightly nervous Pittsburgh, the Wednesday night prime-time telecast of the game with the Tigers might be more sensible.

Regardless, McCutchen has no timetable or urgency.

"We're dealing with him day to day," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's down again [Sunday], we have the day off [Monday] and we'll re-evaluate on Tuesday. I think we're in a good place with him."

That "good place" is three weeks in front of Opening Day. No reason exists to rush McCutchen back into center field. In a typical Spring Training, he notches about 50 at-bats, and he remains stuck on 12, but there's typically little carryover to the regular season.

A year ago, McCutchen had a blistering .417 preseason, then opened the season 1-for-12. A busy '13 preseason (50 at-bats) led to a .217 average 25 games into the regular season.

So even if McCutchen's road to 100 percent is long enough to seriously curtail his preseason game activity, it likely will not mean much. Other than, as Hurdle already intimated, getting him fresher into the championship season.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.