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Maholm not averse to staying with Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. — Entering the final year of his contract, left-hander Paul Maholm is willing to discuss an extension with the Pirates.

"I'm open to anything," Maholm said Tuesday. "It's not like I'm dead-set on getting out (of Pittsburgh). Everything is up to them. If they want to, I'd be more than willing to listen and see where I fit in and go from there."

This season, Maholm will make $5.75 million. There's a club option for 2012 that would pay him either $9.75 million (plus up to $1.1 million in incentives) or a $750,000 buyout.

The Pirates have not made an offer to Maholm, nor even asked about opening talks. General manager Neal Huntington seemed pleasantly surprised when told of Maholm's position.

"I'm glad to hear it," Huntington said. "Paul's done some good things for this organization. We'll give it due consideration."

The Pirates may opt to trade Maholm instead of re-signing him or losing him via free agency. Last July, the Los Angeles Dodgers inquired. This spring, the New York Yankees could be interested.

"I hope somebody wants me," Maholm said. "We'll see how this year goes. I'm not worried about the option or free agency or anything. That's part of the game, and there are plenty of players who go through it every year.

"It's in (the Pirates') hands whether they want me here, whether they want to trade me or whether they want to come up to me and ask me to stick around. Until they tell me something, I've got no say, really."

This past offseason, the Pirates nontendered Zach Duke, an expensive and ineffective lefty, then traded him to Arizona. Duke, who was in his final year of arbitration eligibility, will make $4.25 million with Diamondbacks.

Maholm and Duke remain close friends and Monday swapped text messages about their first day of spring training.

"He sent me a picture of his red (workout) jersey and asked if I missed him," Maholm said, grinning. "I said no and sent him a picture of our yellow 'bumblebee' jersey."

Maholm, 28, was drafted eighth overall in 2003. He missed part of the 2004 season after being struck in the face by a line drive, and made his big league debut in 2005.

In five-plus seasons with the Pirates, Maholm is 47-59 with a 4.48 ERA. Over the past five years, he's made more starts (153) than any lefty in the National League.

Last year, however, Maholm went 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA. He pitched just 185 13 innings, his lowest total since 2007.

"I had 25 really good starts and seven where I shouldn't have been in A ball," Maholm said. "If it was bad, it was really, really bad. That's the thing I need to make sure changes. I need to go deeper into games and not have those struggles."

The troubles weren't limited to Maholm; starting pitching was the Pirates' biggest weakness last season. Pitching coach Ray Searage needs Maholm to bounce back this year and anchor the rotation.

"He's extremely important," Searage said. "Mo brings that veteran presence. He has good information for people to feed off of. Even when he's not pitching, he's into the game."

Photo Galleries

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

Additional Information:

By the numbers

Paul Maholm's career stats:

2005: 3-1, 2.18 ERA, 6 starts, 41.1 IP

2006: 8-10, 4.76, 30, 176.0

2007: 10-15, 5.02, 29, 177.2

2008: 9-9, 3.71, 31, 206.1

2009: 8-9, 4.44, 31, 194.2

2010: 9-15, 5.10, 32, 185.1

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