Paul Maholm content to stay with Pirates
As loud as the sellout crowd at PNC Park was Friday night, Paul Maholm didn't notice the noise when he was on the mound.
He was concentrating too hard, he said, on making the next pitch and grinding out a close game against the Boston Red Sox in which he didn't have his best command.
But once he came out of the game and started to let the atmosphere seep in, it was fun to take it all in. He thought about the possibility of being in the same situation in October -- if not this year, then soon.
"Even now, we're one game above .500 but it's completely different than it has been my first five years," said Maholm the day after earning the win in the series opener. "To hopefully be on the team that not only breaks the (losing) streak but gets to play postseason baseball, it's what we play for and what we're looking forward to."
Maholm is in his sixth full season with the Pirates. The team has a $9.75 million club option on his contract in 2012, with a $750,000 buyout. If the Pirates decline to pick up his option, Maholm will test free agency for the first time.
Citing a policy of not commenting on specific trade or contract situations, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington declined to comment on Maholm's situation.
But the 29-year-old left-hander has not kept secret the fact that he would like to remain with the Pirates, a desire he reiterated Friday.
"Now that we've gone through the rough times and it's starting to get good, it'd be tough to not be here whenever it turns over," he said.
Maholm's win Friday improved his record to 4-8, which isn't overwhelming. But Maholm has also had poor run support in a number of his outings, particularly early in the season. The Pirates are scoring an average of 3.3 runs while he's in the game.
His 3.21 ERA is second lowest among starters behind Jeff Karstens' 2.66, and Maholm has won three of his past four decisions.
And while Friday may have been just one game, it was an important one -- kicking off a series in front of a sellout crowd at home against the powerhouse Red Sox.
Whether it was enough to perhaps spark negotiations toward a new deal, Maholm can't say, although he'd certainly welcome the discussions.
"It's just a win," he said. "It was a big win, but we'll see. I'm not going to go beg for it, I'm not going to initiate the talk. If they want me, they want me. If not, there's zero hard feelings. We'll see how the season goes and see where we're at when everything comes down."
Pirates vs. Red Sox June 26, 2011
Boston defeats the Pirates, 4-2, at PNC Park. Left fielder Jose Tabata is injured.