Andrew McCutchen led off on Opening Day in 2019 with a 428-foot home run that energized the crowd at Citizens Bank Park. He won’t get the chance to top that moment in 2020, and not simply because the Philadelphia Phillies will open the season in Miami.
Friday, manager Joe Girardi told the collective media, including Matt Gelb of The Athletic, that McCutchen isn’t going to be ready to begin the regular season. Presumably then, he’ll open the season on the injured list. Girardi added that the Phillies hope that the 33-year-old outfielder will return in April, so this doesn’t appear to be cause for major concern. Still, McCutchen won’t be ready for Opening Day on March 26, which he said at the outset of Spring Training was his goal.
McCutchen tore his ACL in early June last season in San Diego. While being ready to play in late March wouldn’t have been unprecedented, not being at 100 percent less than 10 months after such an injury isn’t necessarily sign that there’s been any sort of setback.
It is a bummer for the Phillies that they’ll likely be without McCutchen for some time to start the season, though. After signing a three-year/$50 million free-agent contract with the Phillies, the five-time All-Star got off to an excellent start in red pinstripes last year, slashing .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs, 43 walks and a 1.5 fWAR in 59 games.
Given that the expectation was – and still is – that McCutchen will lead off when healthy, it’s unclear who will hit at the top of the order until he returns. Rhys Hoskins has a .364 career on-base percentage, but has less speed than someone you would typically imagine hitting lead off. Any of Scott Kingery, Jean Segura or Didi Gregorius could fill the void until McCutchen returns.
What’s more clear is that Jay Bruce will be the likely replacement in left field for McCutchen on Opening Day. Girardi will also have the option of playing Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley in left and center field together as well.
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