PITTSBURGH — Paul Maholm is like any major leaguer who wants to play for a winner.
But for the southpaw of the Pittsburgh Pirates, that means being patient.
Maholm, who pitched at Mississippi State from 2001-03, is in his sixth season with the Pirates and he has yet to play on a winning team.
Pittsburgh hasn”t had a winning season since the 1992 team made the playoffs, and Maholm is biding his time until the organization can reverse its fortunes.
The 28-year-old Maholm has been in Pittsburgh for the bad times, and he wants to be around for the good times.
“Pittsburgh”s great,” Maholm said. “The fans are great. You want to win for them. They deserve a winner. I want to be around whenever we turn it around.
“The ballpark (PNC Park) is great and the fans are great. Everybody in the clubhouse is awesome. It makes it easier to want to stay and to want to turn things around. I want to be on the team that does it. These fans are ready to explode and embrace us. You can see that. I think it would be cool to be a part of that.”
Maholm is scheduled to make his next start Thursday at Colorado for Pittsburgh (35-64), which is struggling again this season and is in last place in the National League Central Division.
The Pirates have had a recent history of being sellers instead of buyers at the major league trade deadline. This year”s deadline is 3 p.m. Saturday and Maholm has been mentioned in trade talks. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a week ago today the Los Angeles Dodgers have expressed interest in acquiring him.
“It”s been tough (seeing teammates being traded),” Maholm said. “You”re with these guys non stop for eight months and it”s tough to lose guys. We”ve lost a few key guys, and hopefully that will stop pretty soon and we can have our group and kind of go forward.”
Maholm would like to stay in Pittsburgh, where he and his wife, Jessica, have gotten involved with Gilda”s Club of Western Pennsylvaania. In a pregame ceremony before the Pirates played the Milwaukee Brewers a week ago Monday, the Maholms presented a check to Gilda”s Club from donations they collected.
Gilda”s Club raises money for cancer patients. Maholm has a soft spot in his heart for cancer patientss after losing his mother to cancer in 2005.
Maholm believes the future looks promising for the Pirates with young players like outfielder Andrew McCutchen, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Neil Walker.
Alvarez, who played at Vanderbilt, homered twice in back-to-back games against the Milwaukee Brewers last week, and Walker had five hits in an 11-9 win against the Brewers a week ago Tuesday.
Maholm has become a veteran in Pittsburgh because of all of the trades.
“Unfortunately some of our guys have been forced into that role (of being veteran leaders),” Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. “He”s really not that old. He handles himself well in the clubhouse, and he handles himself around the players very well.”
Maholm hopes his next outing is like the one he had July 19 when he went the distance in a 9-0 victory against the Houston Astros. It was his first complete game since April 27, 2008, and first shutout since April 24, 2007.
“It”d been a couple of years since I had (a complete game),” Maholm said. “It was good to take the pressure off the bullpen. Those guys have been working hard and the day before they had to throw eight innings.”
Maholm has started 20 games for the Pirates this season and he”s 6-8 with a 4.13 ERA. He”s struck out 59 batters and issued 42 base on balls.
“He”s done a good job, especially of late,” Russell said. “Paul”s a command-type pitcher. He keeps the ball down and uses his sinker. When he does that he”s very effective. He”s a reliable guy. He”s going to give you a solid start almost every time he goes out there.”
Maholm intends to keep giving it his best to help the Pirates turn their fortunes around.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.