TORONTO -- Andrew McCutchen was stepping away from second base Friday night, taking his secondary lead, when he felt something in his left knee that he couldn't quite articulate hours later.
McCutchen said something in his knee "kind of grabbed." It was kind of like a cramp but unlike anything he'd experienced before. Pittsburgh's star center fielder exited the game in the third inning of the Pirates' 4-2 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre due to what the Pirates described as left patellofemoral discomfort.
Afterward, McCutchen said he was feeling better and hoped to play Saturday afternoon.
"That was the weirdest thing ever. I really can't explain it. Something I've really never felt," McCutchen said. "That's weird. Never went away, then it went away. Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow, ready to go."
McCutchen was examined and treated by trainers during the game. They found no issues with any of his knee ligaments, he said. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said this had not been a recent issue for McCutchen.
"If a knee can get a cramp, that's what it felt like," McCutchen said. "Your knee kind of locks up. You wait for it to go away, it goes away. That's what I was trying to do -- wait for it to go away -- and it never went away. I knew if I tried to run, I'd be base-to-base. Next thing I know, I've got some angry fans screaming, 'Why didn't Cutch score?'"
McCutchen was on second base after slicing an RBI double to right-center field during Pittsburgh's four-run third inning. He remained at second when Josh Bell hit a sacrifice fly to center. While taking a lead with David Freese at the plate, McCutchen grabbed his left knee and began limping toward the Pirates' dugout.
McCutchen hobbled off the field, favoring his left leg, and exited the game. He was replaced by Starling Marte, initially given the night off to rest his legs and keep him off Rogers Centre's artificial turf.
McCutchen played through a sore left knee in early 2015 but said this was not similar to that situation. He has only been placed on the disabled list once in his career, in August '14, due to a fractured rib, and it didn't sound as if he's planning on a return trip anytime soon.
"As the night went on, I felt better. That's a good sign," McCutchen said. "I think I just had a weird moment, I don't know. I feel good now. I feel fine.
"I'd rather play. I'd rather be on defense, rather play the whole game. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. If I feel any type of hindrance behind my knee or whatever, I'll take another day. We're moving in the right direction right now tonight. I'm walking fine, not limping or anything. We're good."
After a slow start at the plate, McCutchen has rebounded in a big way. After his RBI double, McCutchen is slashing .289/.381/.518 with 23 home runs and 71 RBIs in 113 games. The Pirates have won seven of their last nine games, pulling back to .500 for the first time since the morning of July 25.
"You want to be out there playing. I want Marte to have a full day off," McCutchen said. "It didn't work out that way, but at least we still got the win. That's the good part about it. I can still say we won, still. That's good. Hopefully we'll be able to show up tomorrow."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.