Andrew McCutchen apologizes for lack of hustle that led to benching

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Rain canceled last night’s Pirates-Dodgers game, so Andrew McCutchen’s one-game benching for not hustling ends up being a zero-game suspension, as he’ll be back in Pittsburgh’s lineup tonight.

However, the Pirates center fielder still took the time to apologize publicly for his not running to first base on a third strike that got away from the catcher Wednesday, saying “I know that’s not the type of person I am.”

Here’s more of what McCutchen told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com:

I let my emotions get the best of me. I took it out on my bat and myself when I shouldn’t have been mad. I was just frustrated at the time and not focused on the game, not focused that the ball was in the dirt with two strikes and I needed to run to first.

Clint Hurdle appears to have established a zero-tolerance policy on not hustling in his first season as Pirates manager, benching Ronny Cedeno last month and McCutchen yesterday. Treating a role-player like Cedeno the same as a star like McCutchen is crucial when taking that approach, and McCutchen seems fine with the benching.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.