Spring 2021 Magazine

Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen grateful for 'beautiful' time with family amid rehab, pandemic

When Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen went down a year ago with a torn ACL, he was devastated. He missed the remainder of the 2019 season, marking the first time in his 11-year MLB career that he wouldn’t play a significant portion of a season. He appeared in just 59 games, the fewest he’d played since his rookie year in 2009, when he appeared in 108 games after making his MLB debut two months into the regular season.

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Had the 2020 season started on time, McCutchen would have began the campaign on the bench, not fully recovered. That would have been tough to handle as well. At 33 years old, he joked that he’s learned through the rehab process that his body isn’t 16 anymore — he can’t just hop out of bed ready to go like he used to.

But over the weekend as he reflected on the past year during an interview for Philadelphia Metro FCA, McCutchen said the extra time he’s been afforded with his family — wife Maria, 2-year-old Steel and 5-month-old Armani — has been a blessing.

“I’ve had so much time with my family, so much time that I wouldn’t have had before, and I cherish that time. I cherish those moments because I don’t get those moments back,” McCutchen said. “So it’s been good, I’ve been thanking God. Something that I felt like was so horrible and it was, having the injury, ended up being something that was very beautiful because I was able to [enjoy] so many things that I’ve gotten out of this and realized that God is using this for good. Romans 8:28 — He’s using what I’m going through, He’s using it for His good. And I realize that. He shows me here and there that the injury was tough, not playing the game was tough, but there’s beauty that comes out of it.”

(McCutchen’s interview starts at 23:25)

During the interview, which was conducted by Phillies chaplain Jeff Boettcher, McCutchen also talked about his upbringing in the Church and his relationship with Christ. His parents had their family at the church numerous nights every week, and his father was a youth pastor. Because his parents’ faith was so evident in how they lived and how they raised their family, McCutchen says he always knew about Christ and faith in God has always been a part of him.

But his relationship with Christ became his own, he said, when he decided to get baptized at 16 years old and asked his pastor to perform the ceremony.

“That moment was really the moment where I felt I really had my own relationship with Jesus,” McCutchen told Boettcher. “It wasn’t something that was just taught to me or something that was forced upon me, it was actually my own decision.”

He went on to detail how he’s relied on his faith throughout his baseball career. McCutchen was a first-round pick (No. 11 overall) out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2005 MLB Draft, and he relied on his faith when he began to struggle in the sport for the first time. He was an incredible small-town high school player, but competing in the pros was different.

Eventually McCutchen made it to the big leagues and became an All-Star in his third season, was the National League MVP in 2013, and made five consecutive All-Star Game appearances (2011-15).

After nine years in Pittsburgh, McCutchen spent time with three organizations in 2018. He was traded to San Francisco in January, then traded to the New York Yankees in August. He became a free agent after that season, and signed with Philadelphia in December 2018.

McCutchen’s faith in Christ never wavered through the ups and downs because he knows God’s love for him doesn’t waver.

“He holds us accountable in a sense — not too high, not too low, just always throwing those reminders out there about what’s important and who’s important. That’s definitely something I’ve realized in my successes and my failures, is that how well I do and people love me, or how bad I do and people love me and some people don’t, Jesus’ love never changes. It doesn’t matter how well I do or how bad I do, His love for me never, never changes and it never will,” McCutchen said.

Prior to his knee injury last year, McCutchen was playing solid — .256 batting average with 10 home runs and 43 walks, while playing in left and center fields. He’s a .286 hitter for his career, which he hopes to continue in the near future.

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