5 Phillies most interesting to follow this spring training

Matt Moore #55, formerly of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matt Moore #55, formerly of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Will Andrew McCutchen be the everyday Phillies leadoff hitter the team needs?

Back in late February 2020, Phillies manager Joe Girardi told reporters that outfielder Andrew McCutchen would not be ready for Opening Day, needing more time as he recovered from his June 2019 ACL injury.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, delaying the season’s start until late July. McCutchen not only benefited from the delayed start and a shortened season, but also that the universal designated hitter was implemented. He played the most games among Phillies players in the role, 16, followed by Phil Gosselin (10), Bryce Harper (10), Jay Bruce (8), J.T. Realmuto (8), Neil Walker (3), Alec Bohm (1), Rhys Hoskins (1), Jean Segura (1), Kyle Garlick (1), and Andrew Knapp (1).

Now with the season back to 162 games and there not being a designated hitter, whether McCutchen will be able to be the team’s everyday leadoff hitter remains to be seen.

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The former MVP, five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and Gold Glover is on the final year of his three-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies. McCutchen is owed at least $20 million this season, and can be either bought out for $3 million or kept at his $15 million team option for the 2022 season.

Considering McCutchen’s devastating ACL injury during his first season in red pinstripes, he has still been serviceable — slashing .255/.352/.445 through 116 games, while slugging 21 doubles, 20 home runs, and 63 RBI. The Phillies saw, after his injury, that the lineup was never the same. McCutchen was among the league leaders in walks and got on base for Harper, Realmuto, and others to bring him home.

The Phillies need McCutchen to move around better in the field this season, as well as for him to return to his 2019 season form.