Maholm Expecting Big Season In 2008

Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. After concluding his second full major league season in 2007, Maholm was far from pleased with his effort.

Maholm, the Pirates' top draft selection in 2003, registered a 10-15 record with a 5.02 ERA through 29 starts for Pittsburgh. Despite establishing a career-high in wins and innings pitched (177 2/3), those 15 losses didn't sit well with the 25-year-old left-handed pitcher.

That's why he decided to make a change this past winter.

"I changed up my workout routine and hired a personal trainer," Maholm said. "I hit the endurance and the training a little bit more and it's paid off.

"Everybody tries to come in (to spring training) in better shape. It's worked for me but I'm looking forward to the season while staying away from the little nagging injuries."

Maholm reported to the organization's spring training facilitates in Bradenton, Fla., last week for minicamp fitter while feeling great, both mentally and physically.

"I got the taste of being back on the field, hanging out with all the guys and just getting going," Maholm said. "For me, I have high expectations for the team this year. I'm ready to get started."

Slated to return to the Pirates' starting rotation this season, Maholm was very much pleased with his effort in minicamp. His arm feels great and he saw a lot of life from his pitches.

"I was comfortable on the mound and I was getting ahead of hitters," Maholm said. "For two years it's been a learning process and I've taken something away from every start. My job is to go out there and win and that's the only way to measure things now."

He also believes he's on the right track toward presenting a more consistent effort in 2008.

Maholm went 5-11 with a 4.76 ERA in his first 18 starts, throwing 68 strikeouts with 33 walks. He went 5-4 with a 5.46 ERA during his next 11 starts and had 38 more punchouts while surrendering 16 walks and seven home runs.

"For me, it's all about winning," Maholm said. "I don't care about ERA as long as the team's winning. That's my goal and it has driven me through the offseason to put in some extra workouts, get into the best shape possible and do everything I possible can so I can't look back and say I wish I did something else."

He also has some high expectations for the team.

"For the team, I'm looking for this team to contend because the NL Central is wide open," he said.

And to the young starting pitcher, he believes there's no reason why the Pirates won't contend this season.

"You go around the infield and the outfield, along with the whole staff, and we got the pieces," Maholm said. "We have to go out there and prove ourselves. We have to do the job.

"When you look at other lineups, I think we compare pretty evenly. We have to do the little things right, play all out and things will take care of itself."

Basically, Maholm expects winning.

"I'm one of those guys who expects each guy to go out and do their job, play hard and have fun," Maholm said. "With winning you're having fun and that comes along with it.

"For me, it's great to be in the big leagues but it's not fun when you're losing. Hopefully I can be a part of the team that brings Pirates baseball back to what it should be and what it was when I was growing up."

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