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McCutchen, Rodriguez, Pirates help free groundskeeper trapped in tarp

By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3 years ago

Andrew McCutchen and Sean Rodriguez walked off the field in a rain delay Tuesday night with a sneaking suspicion the PNC Park grounds crew would have some trouble with the infield tarp.

“We saw the wind pick up pretty hard when we were coming in,” Rodriguez said later. “You see it a lot of times — usually on the blooper reel — where somebody gets picked up by the tarp or it goes over there.”

They turned at the top step of the dugout and watched as the crew wrestled with the tarp, and then jumped into action when groundskeeper Matt Gerhardt was swallowed by the runaway tarp. Gerhardt got loose, after a few scary moments, and a few more Pirates joined in to help.

"A lot of wind, and not enough help,“ McCutchen said. ”Guys needed some help. We knew it was going to happen, that's why we stayed out there. It happened. Luckily, he was all right."

“They did what men would do,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “They wanted to help out. They were right on the spot. Leaders make moves. Both those guys reacted right spot-on. They didn't wait around — caution to the wind, go out there and try to help. Proud of them."

The players’ initial reactions?

"Get him out as quickly as possible,“ Rodriguez said. ”Some people could be claustrophobic immediately and start to struggle a little bit. I didn't know, obviously, that he'd come out as calm as he did. I was just thinking to pull off as much tarp as I can, see if I can't lighten up whatever wrapped him up."

Added McCutchen: "Good thing he didn't panic too much, and we were able to get to him in time for him to get out of there unscathed."

Asked when he had last pulled tarp, McCutchen laughed and said, "Couldn't tell you. Definitely not in the majors." 

The Pirates more than pulled their weight Tuesday night, and Rodriguez came around to score the winning run in the eighth.

"They call me the jack of all trades, right?" he said, grinning.


Photographer Matt Freed got a few up-close shots of the frenzy.


Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and Sean Rodriguez help grounds crew members put the tarp on the infield Tuesday night as a storm blows into PNC Park. Grounds crew member Matt Gerhardt, right, climbs out after being enveloped by the tarp from strong winds. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)


Pirates grounds crew member Jeff Miller tries to control the tarp on the infield Tuesday night as a storm blows into PNC Park. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)


Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Sean Rodriguez help grounds crew members put the tarp on the infield Tuesday night as a storm blows into PNC Park. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)