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Pirates take wait-and-see approach to Maholm contract

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'American Coyotes' Series

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.

Monday, Aug. 29, 2011

• The Pirates still have not approached Paul Maholm about exploring a contract extension. The left-hander's contract is up after this year, but there is a $9.75 million team option for 2012. "It's a no-brainer to want to try to keep him here," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We've got to get through the shoulder injury. The question is, does the injury carry through the rest of the season, and how does that impact where we go in the offseason?" Maholm is on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain.

• Huntington said he realizes "it was my mistake" to put outfielder Ryan Ludwick (back spasms) on the disabled list. "He's feeling better and could have played this (past) weekend," Huntington said. Ludwick can't be activated until Sept. 7.

• Huntington said Ludwick and Derrek Lee (fractured wrist) will get ample playing time when they return from the DL, even though the Pirates have fallen out of the NL Central race. Showing the two veterans respect down the stretch could have implications when the Pirates shop the free-agent market in the future. "How you treat players is a recruiting piece," Huntington said.

• Once in danger of becoming an afterthought, Garrett Jones has put himself back in consideration for 2012 by hitting .305 with a league-best 16 extra-base hits this month. "He's put together a very interesting August," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll see how (September) plays out." Huntington was upbeat but noncommittal. "Garrett's done a good job of getting his swing back to where he backspins the ball," Huntington said. "Defensively, he's shown signs of being OK at first base. We believe he can hit right-handed pitching very well."

• Right-hander Chris Leroux would like to shift from a relief to a starting role. However, that appears to be a remote possibility, considering he's out of minor league options and has a relatively low total of career innings pitched.

• According to Elias Sports Bureau, Josh Harrison is the first rookie to get three hits in three at-bats for three RBI off Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter. Each of Harrison's hits came after a hit by Jones. In the seventh inning, Jones flied out and Harrison struck out. "I told him that I was just waiting for him to get a hit before I got another," Harrison joked.

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