Paul Maholm is entering his final year of his contract and it’s unlikely the Pirates would exercise his 2012 option of $9.75m (plus up to $1.1 million in incentives).
Maholm has made it clear, he wants to remain in Pittsburgh.
When I spoke to Paul at Piratefest he discussed trade rumors and said he would love to discuss a contract extension.
“I’m here,” Paul Mahom said. “My number one goal is to win. But I also want to be the team that wins here. I think the fans deserve it. I want to be here but I have no control over it. It’s not bothering me, I’m going to prepare. If Neal [Huntington] and them [President Frank Coonelly and Owner Bob Nutting] want to approach to me about staying, I’m all for it. It’s in their hands. I’m here until otherwise.”
Maholm was asked Tuesday at spring training on trade rumors and he once again said he wants to stay in the Steel City.
“I’m coming to the end of my contract, so I’m sure there’s going to be more (rumors). We’ll see. I expect to be here and pitch well. It’s up to those guys (in the front office). I look forward to getting to work with (manager) Clint (Hurdle), Ray (Searage, pitching coach) and all those guys. Hopefully, I’ll have a great year and get to stay around for a while.”
Maholm went 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA during the 2010 season.
Long gone this season in Bradenton, FL. Are the strings that marked the bottom of the strike zone –a tool used by former Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.
Ray Searage will still be using the life sized batting dummies during batting sessions this year –but only sparingly.
“If you need a visual to get the ball down, then you need to go back to the minor leagues,” Searage said. “This is the can-do league. This is the majors leagues. Get the ball down. Make it happen. What I’m trying to get them to concentrate on is the execution of the pitch and not so much on how you’re doing it. We can take care of that later if we need to. In the game, you need to focus on executing the pitch — not where your front shoulder is or anything else. Get the ball to where you want it to be”
Searage is pleased with the pitchers, especially Evan Meek, Tyler Yates and Mike Crotta, who he says stood out during their bullpen sessions.
“Yates looks like he could pitch (in a game) tomorrow,” Searge said. “That was the best ‘pen I’ve ever seen out of Meek. Good gosh, it was solid. “Crotta, a young kid, looked sharp.”
“I’m really happy,” Searage said. “Not that I’m going to go out and buy a case of champagne, but I’m very happy with the progression and what transpired during the winter (throwing) program.”
- Pirates pitching prospect Luis Heredia spent Tuesday morning watching the major league spring training workouts.
“I like watching the team,” Heredia said. “I like the guys. I feel good. I am excited.”
Heredia threw a long toss session on Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday.
Luis Heredia (front left) with a group of young Bucs in conditioning drills today (picture via @BucsInsider)
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports:
Pedro Alvarez put on another bombs-away show during batting practice on Field 3. Alvarez swatted homers and dinged two cars in the parking lot beyond the outfield wall.
- The following players threw bullpen sessions on Tuesday: Charlie Morton, Brian Burres, Fernando Nieve, Chris Resop, Sean Gallagher, Tony Watson, Cesar Valdez, Tyler Yates, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brad Lincoln, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen, Ramon Aguero, Daniel Moskos and Bryan Morris.
- Right-handed pitcher Kevin Hart threw a long toss program on Tuesday before the team workouts. Hart had been shut down for 10 days and given a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation in his surgically-repaired shoulder.
“Everyone that I’ve talked to who had the surgery says it is normal to have this type of issue,” Hart said. “They seem to think that it’s something that 10 days off could really resolve. It sounds really simple to think about, but when you don’t throw for four months and then start cranking it up, there are going to be some times when some tightness starts creeping in.”
Hart remains optimistic that he will be able ready by opening day.
- Left-hander Scott Olsen has thrown off the mound three times, his fourth session is scheduled on Wednesday. It’s reported that he has had no discomfort with his shoulder thus far.
“I’m hoping that everything stays healthy and that we can progress in the right direction,” Olson said. “We haven’t had any setbacks. No issues. It’s early, and we’re taking the proper steps and precautions that we need to take.”
- Right-hander Brad Lincoln has reported to spring training several pounds lighter this year. He spent the offseason going through some tough conditioning work.
Pitching coach Ray Searage has said that he would not be forcing any new mechanical changes on Lincoln moving forward. He also said Lincoln’s mechanics are back to where they need to be.
Pirates andy marte warms up in batting pratice (picture via @RobBiertempfel)
Who better to coach the Pirates catchers than Sangy [Manny Sanguillen] (picture via @RobBiertempfel)
Evan Meek is already anxious for the new season to begin. Although, Monday kicks off the first official day of spring training, Meek wishes the season would get here much faster.
“It’s exciting to get things started again, but spring training is like a month-and-half long, too long. I’d be fine if it lasted a week,” Meek said Sunday after a workout at Pirate City, where pitchers and catchers officially open with new manager Clint Hurdle today. “Let’s get it started.”
Meek and Joel Hanrahan are coming off of great 2010 seasons. Evan was named the Pirates All-Star representative and went 5-4 with a 2.14 ERA and picked up four saves. Hanrahan 4-1 with a 3.62 ERA and six saves. He also struck out 100 batters in just 69.2 innings.
The closers role has not yet been announced and General Manager Neal Huntington had said there won’t be a spring training competition for the role. So just who will claim that ninth inning role?
“Joel and I would both like that role [as closer]. We’ve talked about it,” Meek said. “But either way would be fine with me, however it comes out. It’s really not important when you look at the overall picture.”
Meek arrived at spring training much slimmer than last year.
(Picture credit: Eric Gay/Associated Press)
Evan Meek jokes with teammates after being offered a Pirates cap to replace a camouflage-print cap he had been wearing at a voluntary spring training workout Sunday. -Pittsburgh-Post Gazette
- Monday marks the first day of spring training. At Noon ET, the Pirates pitchers and catchers will have their first official workout.
- Pitchers and catchers will undergo physical exams on Monday prior to the first workout.
- Although position players don’t officially start until Saturday, 49 of the 62 are already in camp.
“We were getting rumblings that a bunch of them were going to show up and they did,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s another sign of them taking accountability and responsibility for what’s in front of us.”
- Jose Ascanio is experiencing visa problems leaving Venezuela.He is expected to arrive by Tuesday or Wednesday. There will be 40 of the 41 pitchers and catchers in camp Monday.
- Ross Ohlendorf was one of the 20 pitchers that had a formal workout on Sunday. Ohlendorf is looking to bounce back after a injury plagued season in which he went 1-11.
“I know I can pitch better than I did last season, and I’m excited to show I can pitch better,” Ohlendorf said. He also was impressed with what he had seen of new manager Clint Hurdle, after working with him at mini-camps this winter. “He has a lot of energy, and positive energy, which makes it easy to believe in ourselves,” he said.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reports that Tyler Yates, who had Tommy John Surgery, is fully recovered and is expected to go through the same throwing program as everyone else at camp.
- Ryan Doumit is aware of the Pirates trying to trade him.
“I’m trying not to think about that because I don’t really care,” Doumit said. “No matter where they put me, I want to be the best I can be. I’m going to go out there and just try to play like I’m capable of playing, and let that speak for itself
- General Manager Neal Huntington indicated a decision is near on whether Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will be the closer for the 2011 season. In fact, it may have been made.
“We’ve got to sit down with the people involved and let them know,” Huntington said. “As soon as we do that, we’ll let you guys know. It won’t be something that goes through spring training.”
- Several of the Pirates players tweeted after day one of spring training:
Paul Maholm (@Maholm38): Great first day of spring. Threw a bullpen, fielded a few grounders, bunted, and some sprints. Now can we start games soon.
Tony Sanchez (@TSanchez26): First day of 2011 in the books. The first and last day of feeling 100%.
Joel Harahan (@Hanrahan4457): Day 1 was a success, can we skip to a few games then opening day please?
Daniel McCutchen (@DanielMcCutchen): Good to back at it, day one is in the books.
- Injury updates according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh-Tribune:
Donnie Veal (elbow surgery) won’t be on the fields much this spring.
Kevin Hart (shoulder surgery) is in “no-throw” mode for a while, but Huntington said he still has to chance to be game-ready by the end of spring training.
Tyler Yates (elbow surgery) will compete for a big league bullpen job.
The Buccos take the field on the first day of spring training 2011 (Picture via @BucsInsider)
Maholm, hanny, veras, correia throw first bullpen of camp (Picture via @RobBiertempfel)
Clint Hurdle watches as Andrew McCutchen takes some swings (Picture via @BucsInsider)
** I will be heading down to Bradenton, FL. in exactly two weeks for spring training. So be sure to keep checking back for coverage.
Happy Pitchers and Catchers report day!
“For me, this is an exciting time,” Clint Hurdle said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of something significant and special here.”
- 41 pitchers and catchers, 15 are non-roster invitees, reported to Bradenton, FL. Jose Veras, Jose Ascanio and Cesar Valdez were having VISA issues and are expected to be at camp by Monday morning.
- Spring Training’s first official workout is scheduled to begin at noon ET and the first full-squad workout will be held on Saturday.
- There are 62 players attending spring training this year (Click here for the full list).
- *Note: Jeff Clement has been removed from the list of non-roster invitees. He is still recovering from surgery and therefore will be reporting to Minor League camp.
- Pirates beat reporter, Jenifer Langosch, reports that spring training will be much different this year, compared to years past.
Hurdle has promised changes to the Spring Training routine, so the workout days should look different than they did when John Russell was in charge. Hurdle specifically noted that there would be an increased focus on shoring up fundamentals and honing pitchers’ pickoff moves.
“We’re going to talk about playing better baseball,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We’re going to talk about taking care of business every single day. We’re going to talk about making sure that we’re prepared. We’re going to talk about making sure we’re in position to win that next game. If we do that every day, if we do that every series, if we do that every week, if we do that every month, we’re going to look up at the end and we’re going to have had a great year.”
Some of the pitchers get an early start to camp with a light workout at Pirate City (picture via @BucsInsider)
Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington chatted with Jim Duquette and Jody McDonald of MLB Network radio’s Baseball Today on Sunday. He discussed: Clint Hurdle’s energy, the impact by the new Veterans, the closers role, young prospects who could make their debuts, and a possible long term extension with Andrew McCutchen.
On Clint Hurdle’s energy: “It’s great to know that we got Clint leading this group and the excitement, the enthusiasm, knowledge, the passion, and the intensity he brings, it’s going to be different for our players. We felt like we needed a new voice, new direction and not only with Clint but with our staff. We got a great staff in place. Our guys are excited. They are looking forward to this year. Looking forward to surprising some people.”
On the reason Huntington sough out Veterans Matt Daiz and Lyle Overbay: “Obviously, coming off a tough season, we wanted to get better. We knew we needed to upgrade our rotation, try to upgrade our bullpen, wanted some offensive ability. We wanted to improve our defense. When you win 57 games you pretty much need to improve everywhere. We had a lot of great young players who we’re excited about. This group of 25 and under both at the major league level and through our system is going to be the foundation of our future success. We are hoping we can have some current success. Guys like [Kevin] Correia, [Scott] Olsen, can add some veteran presence to our rotation. We got some guys that are competing to make our bullpen whether, it’s [Joe] Beimel or [Jose] Veras, that can help out [Joel] Hanrahan and [Evan] Meek, who were so good for us last year. Overbay, we upgrade defensively at first base with Garrett Jones in a platoon situation in right field…We put Garret in a position to be successful. Then we added Matt Diaz and all of a sudden we have a very productive right field…You talk to the people that were around that Atlanta [Braves] club, whether it’s front office people, people in the dugout, people around that club, Matt was one of their leaders last year. Lyle is a constant professional. And we needed to help Neil Walker and Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, take some of the pressure off them. Let them go play and provide some of that veteran leadership to help them mature both on the field and off.”
On what Huntington is looking for this spring, compared to last: “I think our guys believe that we’re ready to start taking a huge step forward. In the past we hoped. And we kind of looked around and wondered who the guy was, that was going to put the team on his back and carry it. Now, we got a handful of guys that are capable of doing that…Talking with our guys, reading their quotes in the papers, they believe we can take a huge step forward this year. Clint’s only going to foster that. Our staff is only going to help that. There’s no question; we need to take a big step forward this year.”
On if there is an open competition between Hanrahan and Meek for the closers role at spring training: “We are going to go with one guy. We have not announced it publicly first. We honestly spent more time trying to see if there was a veteran closer, as we have with Octavio Dotel last year. That would come in here and close out some games, and allow Clint to use meek and Hanrahan anywhere through the sixth through the eighth. That worked out really well for us…We weren’t able to do that. Our energy and our focus has been on preparing for spring training. It’s been on trying to recruit some guys to try to come in here and step forward. We will meet as a staff, Clint, and Ray Searage and I will sit down and we will identify who is going to be our closer. No it won’t be an open competition at spring training. It’s too tough…It’s not like we got a bad choice. Whichever guy we go with, we believe can close games at the major league level and believe will do a nice job for us…We will commit to somebody and over an extended period of time and they will get the opportunity to show us that they can hold the job. The other guy is going to be getting big outs for us in the seventh or the eighth inning.”
On what young prospects could make their debuts this year: “Any of that rotation that was in Double-A last year that led that club to the Eastern League Championship. Whether it’s Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, or Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, there may be some of the guys out of the bullpen that get here quicker. Danny Moskos has great stuff from the left side, we just got to build that confidence that allows him to feel like his stuff can compete. There may be a couple guys that kind of surprise some people. Position player wise, there are some guys moving up from that group. Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew Lambo that are probably a little ways away. There is a good wave of talent coming through…If those guys don’t show up instantaneously, it’s not Sidney Crosby or Lebron James, that show up at the highest level on the day that they sign. It takes years. For Pedro Alvarez to get here in essentially in two calendar years is quick decent. We are looking forward to that next group of guys from the ’08 draft and ’08 signing class getting here.”
On Chris Snyder’s key to getting back to past years: “We traded for Chris to help our pitching staff. To stabilize the game calling, to stabilize our young starters, to help them get through tough innings, to help them get through tough outings. Whether it was the pitching coach change or Chris Synder traded for in late July, it did that. Our starting pitchers really threw the ball much better in August and September…He’s excited to get a full offseason of workouts. He’s coming, from what we’ve been told, in very good shape….In last offseason, his offseason was impacted by the back surgery and this is his first real healthy offseason in a while. He’s fired up to come in and help us.”
On potentially doing a long term deal with Andrew McCutchen: “They key to any of those situations is; One: the club wants it to happen, and we do. Two: the player wanting it to happen and that doesn’t always happen. Contracts take a willingness to share a risk of these type of situations. In some cases the club isn’t willing to take on that risk and other cases the player isn’t willing to compromise his potential future earnings value. He’s not interested in the security, he’d rather go out and see how much he can make year in and year out. Or, he doesn’t feel it’s the right time…It is something we absolutely intend to do. But the only way these deals get done is if two sides are interested in it.”
On what starter needs to step up this year: “…We need a multitude of guys to step forward. We need Paul Maholm to do what Paul Maholm did, whether it’s in ’08 or at least in ’09 and not what he did in ’10…Kevin Correia, we are looking forward for him to bounce back two what he was in ’09 given a very tough 2010 season both on and off the field. Charlie Morton has got tremendous stuff, yeah we need Charlie to take a step up. We need Ross Ohlendorf to stay healthy the whole year. We need to give him some run support. James McDonald. Can he do what he did for us the last two months of the season? Can he do that over the course of the season? Scott Olsen. Can we get that stuff to play on a consistent basis and get him back healthy. Can we get Brad Lincoln back to where he was? The nice part is, here comes that Owens, Wilson, Locke, Morris group that if we have some struggles, we’ve got some depth. Jeff Karstens did a nice job through five innings, as pretty much as anybody in baseball, just seemed to hit a wall in that sixth and seventh inning. The reality is, there isn’t just one person that needs to step forward for us to go where we believe we can go. We are going to need a couple guys to step up.”
Those interested in paying respects to former Pirates manager Chuck Tanner will be able to do so on Tuesday. There will be a public viewing in New Castle, Pa. from 4-7 PM at the Cunningham Funeral Home.
According to Jenifer Langosch, Pirates beat reporter, the Bucs are planning to honor Chuck Tanner is several different ways this season.
The Pirates are planning additional ways in which to honor Tanner this season, though specific arrangements have not yet been announced. The organization did reveal its plans to create the Chuck Tanner “We Are Family Fund,” which will annually present an award to the Pirates Minor League staff member who best exemplifies Tanner’s optimism, enthusiasm, work ethic and leadership.
Kyle Stark of ESPN named the Pirates the third Most Unimproved teams in the National League (the Mets were No. 1, Astros No. 2).
Stark also named the Pirates the No. 1 Least Recognizable Team (the Astros were No. 2, Royals No. 3).
“I might as well retire this category. What’s the point? The Pirates seem to win it every year, anyway. Here’s how I know exactly how faceless this team is: I cover baseball for a living. I kept a daily log book on every team’s transactions all winter. And even I couldn’t correctly identify the Pirates’ entire prospective Opening Day lineup this week. So there’s no telling how much money you could win if you walked into any tavern not located in the 412 area code and challenged your buddies to do it — even if you gave them Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez free of charge. It’s not a good sign when more Americans can name the lineup of the 1979 Pirates than the 2011 Pirates. But I’m betting that if I commissioned a Gallup poll, that’s exactly how it would turn out.”
Stark also took a jag at the Pirates, once again, mentioning the Bucs will pay Ross Ohlendorf $2.025 million for going 1-11.
Ryan Doumit’s role for the 2011 season is a significant down grade compared to the years past. If he remains a Pirate for opening day, he will be seeing limited plate appearances, as a back-up catcher and a pinch hit/bench guy. And dare I say it? First baseman and right fielder on occasion.
There is still a chance Doumit could be moved before the season starts, however, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.
“There have been feelers, both ways. I remember Neal Huntington quoted (I think it was in a Hot Stove piece) about “the right fit” for Doumit. And Neal went on to say that “right fit” could be some different roles in Pittsburgh or, perhaps, in another city. Logic yields that Doumit is being shopped. I would say there is a good chance other teams want to see him in Spring Training; want to see him healthy and in-person and then might be a bit more aggressive with a play for him. I said it before, though: I really wonder how much the head-injury stuff is holding some teams back.”