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Pirates' Meek eager to get the call again

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ST. LOUIS — Music was playing in the Pirates' clubhouse after Monday's win over the St. Louis Cardinals, and there were plenty of smiles — but Evan Meek wasn't happy.

The Pirates' set-up man nearly cost them the game in the eighth inning. It was the second consecutive poor outing for the right-hander, following a five-run eighth in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

But Tuesday, Meek was just looking to get the ball again.

"I keep telling myself it's the fourth game," Meek said. "It's a long season, and obviously I'm not pitching how I can or how I should be right now, but it's too early to panic.

"This situation is just one of those things where you have to have a good outing to build off of, and you have to do the best you can not to be negative and dwell on your last outing or your last couple outings because that's not going to be productive."

Meek was solid against the Cubs on Opening Day. He entered in the eighth inning with the Pirates ahead, 6-3, gave up a single, then got the next three outs — the final two on strikeouts. But the next day he gave up five runs (two earned), three hits and walked one in two-thirds of an inning.

On Monday, he allowed two runs to score and was replaced by rookie Mike Crotta after facing three batters, leaving runners on the corners with no one out.

"I'm scratching my head," said Meek, a 2010 All-Star. "If I have to take the positives out of it, the first guy, I'm getting ahead of. I'm getting two strikes. But the frustrating thing is a lot of the hits I've given up have been with two strikes.

"The count has been in my favor. It may be bad selection, location, whatever, but I'm very close. It's not like I'm far off. So I'm just holding on to that. (Tuesday) is our fifth game, so you can't panic right now."


"I really like the way they're playing the game. One of the hot topics all spring is I want them to work their backsides off in spring, practice hard, then I want them to go play. There's been a lot of emotion in the dugout, and guys pulling for other guys. You want it to be real; you don't want it to be manufactured. And that's been good to see."

Clint Hurdle

Pirates manager, on what has pleased him this season

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