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‘It’s a moment that I’ll always have’: Andrew McCutchen reflects on HR in first Phillies at-bat

Over the last 10 years, you would be hard-pressed to find five times that Citizens Bank Park has been more electric than it was on March 28, 2019. That day, the Philadelphia Phillies welcomed the Atlanta Braves to town to begin one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history.

And as fans not-so-patiently waited for Bryce Harper’s first at-bat as a Phillie in the bottom of the first inning, Andrew McCutchen sent Citizens Bank Park into a state of jubilation by leading off with a home run in his first at-bat as a Phillie:

Ahead of his return to Citizens Bank Park as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, McCutchen reflected on one of the defining moments of an excellent career.

“I mean, any time to be able to homer on Opening Day … better yet, Opening Day … new team … Schwarber did it … first at-bat to lead off the game, there’s nothing like that, really. And if there is, they are few and far between,” McCutchen said in the visiting dugout before Friday night’s game. “Yeah, it was awesome, I really enjoyed it.”

The former National League MVP’s time with the Phillies was abbreviated. A torn left ACL ended his 2019 season after just 59 games. He played in 57 of the 60 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Over the lifetime of his three-year/$50 million contract, McCutchen played in only 260 games. But to say extenuating circumstances were the reason for that would be a massive understatement.

McCutchen is still being paid $3 million by the Phillies in 2022, the buyout his contract included if the Phillies declined his $15 million club option for a fourth season in red pinstripes.

The Brewers signed him to a one-year/$8.5 million contract in March to be their DH. He didn’t go deep in his first at-bat as a Brewer, but he did double into right field off of Chicago Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks, the first hit of the 2022 MLB season. He would later score the first run of the season as well. With arguably the best one-two punches in baseball in their starting rotation (Corbin Burnes & Brandon Woodruff) and bullpen (Josh Hader & Devin Williams), the Brewers give McCutchen a chance to chase a World Series title that’s eluded him in his first 13 seasons.

As long as the 35-year-old continues to mash left-handed pitching — he posted a 1.027 OPS against lefties in his final season with the Phillies — there will be a spot for McCutchen in the league, especially with the addition of the universal DH.

A five-time All-Star, McCutchen is one of the greatest players in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition to the Phillies and Brewers, he’s also had stints with the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. By the time his career is over, his time with the Phillies — along with his alter ego “Uncle Larry” and his rock-paper-scissors celebration with third base coach Dusty Wathan — will likely just be a footnote.

But it will be a footnote that began in incredible fashion.

“It’s a moment that I’ll always have, and I can always watch. It was a good moment for me.”


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