BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Andrew McCutchen walked to the podium, brushed back his trademark dreadlocks, unfolded a sheet of paper and took a deep breath.
The Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star centerfielder looked across the massive ballroom at the Dapper Dan Awards — think Pittsburgh's version of the ESPYs — while accepting the 2012 Sportsman of the Year honor in January and cleared his throat.
"I don't do this a lot," McCutchen said.
Maybe, but he better get used to it. It kind of comes with the territory when you become the face of a franchise, particularly one in desperate need of a karmic turnaround.
There have been a few potential successors since Bonds abandoned Pittsburgh following the 1992 season, though things have never quite worked out.
In both cases, the always bottom-line conscious Pirates traded away their most valuable assets before losing them on the open market. Ditto Nate McLouth, Aramis Ramirez and Freddy Sanchez and a host of others who have found greater success — not to mention a bigger paycheck — away from the Steel City.
Pittsburgh management insists the days of being a farm system for teams with deeper pockets are over.