Yet the Pirates are streaking, winning -- reassuring for the man who for years had the burden of carrying them.
And McCutchen crunched a couple of pitches Saturday night to the center-field warning track on an open-roof night at the wind-enlarged Chase Field. So he feels it's coming.
"That's baseball … it's a game of adjustments. I'll get there, it's a matter of time," McCutchen said. "I'm not focused on the outcome, just on the feeling. And I'm feeling good, so the outcome will be there. Long as I feel good, I'll get good results."
McCutchen's average is down to .175. He is no stranger to slow starts -- he batted .219 through April 2011. This one, however, might raise more concern in some because it comes in the wake of a Spring Training during which McCutchen appeared vulnerable by battling "lower-body soreness."
There is no connection, of course. Barreling up a couple of balls Saturday night showed there is nothing wrong with McCutchen's swing that a change of wind direction couldn't cure.
And the Pirates are one away from what would be their first April five-game wining streak since 2007 -- when McCutchen was playing the outfield in Altoona.
"Our focus is to win every single day, to at least go out there and perform at the highest level," said McCutchen, waving off the significance of such a month-based accomplishment. "We know we aren't going to win every game, but our focus is on going out there and doing it right."
Touching all the bases
• First: Radhames Liz went six years and 217 days between Major League wins on Sept. 14, 2008 for the Orioles and this April 19 for the Bucs -- the longest span between wins among active pitchers.
• Second: Neil Walker keeps doubling up, with a total of seven two-baggers in 18 games after hitting eight doubles in spring training.
• Third: Starling Marte's tie-breaking single in the ninth inning marked his fourth career go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later.
• Home: The previous time A.J. Burnett had gone three straight starts without allowing more than a run (2005), he totaled 19 strikeouts in that stretch. This time, through Saturday night's start, he struck out a total of 13, a tipoff of how he has evolved as a pitcher.