McCutchen to sit out for entire Bucs-Braves series

McCutchen to sit out for entire Bucs-Braves series

ATLANTA -- Throughout Andrew McCutchen's season-long struggles, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has observed his star outfielder as he's strived to return to form at the plate with extra video work, side sessions and swings in the cage.

But following Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Brewers, in which McCutchen went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts, the two met and reached a conclusion: Hurdle would sit McCutchen for the entire three-game series vs. the Braves.

"I just encouraged him that, in some situations like this, what I've seen happen with good players [who are struggling] is you unplug them," said Hurdle before Wednesday's game at Turner Field. "I told him, 'The manager has got to do it. I'm just asking you to sign off on it.'"

The center fielder was held out of the lineup for the second day in a row on Wednesday and is not expected to play in Thursday's series finale. Hurdle said he doesn't plan on using McCutchen in any capacity, even as a pinch-hitter.

This season, the former National League MVP is batting .241/.311/.408, a far cry from the .313/.404/.523 line he registered from 2012-15. He's struck out in 24.8 percent of his plate appearances.

"For me, personally, [sitting is] not something I want to do -- of course not," McCutchen said. "But at the same time, I know it's going to give these guys some opportunities and a chance to go out there and get themselves in a rhythm, and I'm all for the team and all for my teammates. That's the reason why I'm not going to mope or pout about it."

McCutchen appeared to find his stride heading into the All-Star break, batting .314 with two homers in his final nine games. But since July 19, the 29-year-old has hit .211 with 11 strikeouts in 38 at-bats.

On Wednesday, McCutchen attributed some his struggles to his lack of plate discipline. He said there have been times this year when he's disagreed with a call and adjusted his pitch selection according to the strike zone.

"I need to stay within myself, know my strengths and not try to adjust to something I can't control," he said. "I think that's been a huge part of the reason why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm just not staying within myself and in my zone."

Hurdle refrained from saying whether or not McCutchen would return to the No. 3 spot in the batting order for Friday's series opener against the Reds at home.

"The easiest part of my job is to put McCutchen in this lineup," Hurdle said, "And I told him, 'I'm willing to make a sacrifice. I need you to make one with me for the betterment of this thing moving forward.'"

Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.