McCutchen move sign of the times

PITTSBURGH — Somewhere this morning, some old-timer is ready to explode.

That will happen shortly after he finds out that Andrew McCutchen returned to the No. 3 spot in the Pirates’ batting order because he told Clint Hurdle he was ready to make the move.

A player dictating the lineup? A manager letting a player choose his spot? Heavens to Leo Durocher, what is going on here?

Sorry, but John McGraw is dead and so is the old “my way or the highway” approach.

Managers walk a thin line these days. It’s a new generation of players and they don’t respond well to orders.

It’s not just baseball. Mike Sullivan has coached the Penguins to two Stanley Cup titles because the players tuned out Mike Johnston. When the team was playing aimlessly, the coaching change was made.

It goes beyond that. The Penguins’ weekend acquisition of Ryan Reaves was made to appease Sidney Crosby. It remains to be seen if Reaves is a deterrent to opponents who would take cheap shots at the Penguins’ stars, but the organization addressed the issue to satisfy Crosby.

Remember those old baseball stories about curfews on the road and managers conducting bed checks? They’re as quaint as train travel for a series in St. Louis.

It isn’t enough to manage players now. A manager has to get along with them, too.

Since he arrived here, Hurdle has had a leadership group that he meets with regularly. If the players have an issue, the manager wants to know about it before it becomes a problem.

The Pirates fired a clubhouse man several years ago because the players didn’t like his demeanor.

The latest case with McCutchen is an extreme case. He has some sway in the clubhouse, which he earned by being the Pirates’ best player for a long time. The struggles of the last two years aside, McCutchen is still a big man among the players.

The manager can’t be a pushover, but he can’t be a dictator. Those days are gone.

Please try to avoid having your head explode.

Full agenda

One of these days, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford will get a chance to relax and enjoy the team’s championship.

Since the playoffs ended, Rutherford has worked on the expansion draft, the amateur draft and made a trade.

NHL’s free agency period opens this weekend, and Rutherford will find out where he stands. If he can’t bring some players back, he’ll be busy on the phones trying to line up trades to fill holes.

The Penguins also have their rookie development camp this weekend.

Rutherford has also had to rearrange front office duties since a couple of his key aides moved on to jobs with the Buffalo Sabres.

It’s a great to win, but it makes for a short offseason for a general manager.

Pet talk

Last night was another Pup Night at PNC Park, one of the Pirates’ most popular promotions.

The dogs seem to enjoy socializing in their special section.

There are no cat nights.

Cats will not buy tickets to a game when they can stay home and watch it on TV.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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