Andrew McCutchen has made a habit of arriving early for spring training.

Position players are required to report a few days after pitchers and catchers begin their workouts. However, McCutchen usually is on the practice fields a day or two before the rest of the outfielders.

That probably will be the case again this year. The Pirates officially open camp Thursday morning when pitchers throw long toss on Field 1 at Pirate City. The entire team won't assemble until Tuesday, but you can expect to see McCutchen back at work by this weekend.

Why the early check-ins? It's convenient for McCutchen to get to camp; he lives just a 90-minute drive from Pirate City. He always had had the kind of work ethic that made him the National League MVP last season. And some of it simply was due to the exuberance of a young player.

None of that has changed — even if McCutchen isn't such a young player anymore. In fact, this year, he is the “old man” of the Pirates outfield and knows that status brings added responsibility.

“We all eventually turn into that,” McCutchen said with a laugh. “Before, I always was the ‘young guy' on the team. Eventually, that all changes. Call it evolution, I guess.”

McCutchen turned 27 on Oct. 10, the day after the Pirates were bounced from the NL Division Series. He got engaged during the offseason. And he had reached the midpoint of his six-year, $51.5 million contract.