Andrew McCutchen made a simple analogy while explaining his approach to stealing more bases.

"If you want to hit better, you watch all the great hitters," McCutchen said. "So for stealing bases, you watch guys that have a lot of success stealing bases."

That doesn't necessarily mean Mike Trout, Michael Bourn or others who are exceptionally fast. The players McCutchen likes to watch as he and the Pirates aim to improve their steal numbers are those without pure speed who rely on other skills to steal bases.

"I like to watch people who need everything to be right for them to go," McCutchen said. "Those are the people you can really get to watch, see what they're doing to get a jump.

"I know that with my speed I should be able to get to the next base without a problem. I like to watch the guys who need a little more than just speed to get to the base. You can really see their mechanics and their form."

The Pirates stole 73 bases last season, the third fewest in the majors. They were successful 58 percent of the time. McCutchen, who stole 33 bases in 2010, took 23 in 2011 and 20 last season. From June 20-Aug. 20, a 55-game span, McCutchen did not steal a base.

"A lot of it is confidence, a lot of it is mentality on the bases even more than a lot of the physical stuff," said Alex Presley, one of the faster Pirates who stole nine bases in each of the past two seasons. "It's just knowing that you're going to take the bag. That will stop any hesitation on a jump."

McCutchen, Starling Marte and Presley, who is fighting this spring for a spot in the outfield, represent usable speed manager Clint Hurdle hopes to tap.