Pirates “optimistic” about Andrew McCutchen extension

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Pirates GM Neal Huntington told fans at Saturday’s PirateFest that he is “optimistic” about signing Andrew McCutchen to a long-term extension before the 25-year-old center fielder reaches free agency.

This according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

McCutchen isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2012 season and won’t hit free agency until the winter of 2015, so the Bucs aren’t in a great hurry quite yet. But they’ll do their best, once the time comes, to ensure that the face of their franchise is not exposed to the open market. Here’s Huntington:

“When you enter a negotiation, you’re at X, the player’s at Z and you work awfully hard to try to find Y. There has to be a compromise, there has to be a shared risk on both sides.”

McCutchen batted .259/.364/.456 with 23 home runs, 89 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 678 plate appearances this past year for the 72-90 Pirates. Through three major league seasons, he owns an .822 career OPS.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.