Maholm, Pirates haven't talked extension
Club hasn't approached lefty, who will negotiate during season
PITTSBURGH -- Paul Maholm's stance of welcoming in-season contract negotiations has not changed. But to this point, such interest has still not been reciprocated by the Pirates.
Maholm is in the final guaranteed season of a long-term deal he signed before the 2009 season. While Maholm has a club option of $9.75 million attached to that contract, he has publicaly said that he would like the opportunity to see if he could agree to a contract that would keep him in Pittsburgh even past the 2012 season.
The Pirates do not have a firm policy about avoiding contract negotiations during the season, though it is not general manager Neal Huntington's preference.
Given Maholm's contract status, there remains the possibility that the Pirates could be willing to deal him before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline if the club can net something significant in return. While the starting rotation would take a hit if it were to lose the left-hander, the Pirates might have to part with big league talent if they want to land an impact player.
Maholm will take a 6-9 record and a 3.06 ERA into his start on Friday. There are only three National League lefties with lower ERAs this season.
Hurdle not concerned with lack of offense
PITTSBURGH -- Outcome dictates outlook, and no better has that been illustrated than over the past two days as it concerns the Pirates' offense. While a combined three runs in the first two games of the series is not all that impressive, the pitching staff's ability to parlay the minimal support into two victories has left manager Clint Hurdle laughing when asked if he's concerned about the lack of production.
"It's kind of interesting to me that we can be playing the kind of ball we're playing and doing the kind of things we're doing at this time of the year and one of the last questions is, 'Are you concerned about the lack of runs?'" Hurdle said on Wednesday. "I am so encouraged by what our guys are bringing. I have challenged them to score one more run than the other team, and they have taken me up on my word."
Despite Hurdle's opinion, the reality is that the Pirates are going to have to begin scoring more runs if they are going to make a serious run at a playoff berth. Though the pitching staff ranks fifth in the league with a 3.36 ERA, the club has still dropped 37 of 48 games in which it has scored fewer than four runs.
On the reverse side, the pitchers have shown that when handed sufficient support, they'll make it stand. The team is 40-7 when scoring at least four runs.
The Pirates continue to look at both internal and external options as they seek ways to bolster the offense. The returns of Steve Pearce, Ryan Doumit and Pedro Alvarez could help, though there is risk involved with relying solely on internal pieces.
Heading into Wednesday's series finale, the Pirates ranked 11th in the National League in team batting average (.246), 13th in runs scored (372), 13th in home runs (62) and 11th in on-base percentage (.313). The club is averaging fewer than four runs a game.
Hanrahan unavailable for finale vs. Reds
PITTSBURGH -- Sticking by his policy of not using a reliever more than three days in a row, manager Clint Hurdle will not have closer Joel Hanrahan available in Wednesday's series finale.
After tossing 1 1/3 innings in Houston on Sunday, Hanrahan collected a save in the first two games of this series against Cincinnati. Asked who could be used in Hanrahan's place if there is a save situation on Wednesday, Hurdle first cited Jose Veras. He also said there could be a scenario in which he uses two pitchers in the final frame.
Chris Resop, Joe Beimel and Tony Watson will have limited availability on Wednesday, Hurdle added. Watson is recovering from a 33-pitch effort on Monday.
Catcher Jason Jaramillo has come off the Minor League disabled list and has rejoined Triple-A Indianapolis. He could be in Pittsburgh as early as this weekend, as the Pirates are expected to have Jaramillo replace Eric Fryer as the team's second catcher. He appeared in seven rehab games with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.
Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (right shoulder strain) made his second rehab start with Class A Advanced Bradenton on Tuesday and allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Steve Pearce (right calf strain) and Ronny Cedeno (concussion) each played in Triple-A Indianapolis' game on Tuesday, and both could be ready to rejoin the Pirates during the team's upcoming series against the Cardinals. Cedeno had three hits in four at-bats. With a double, Pearce now has seven hits in six rehab games.
After resuming his rehab assignment with Bradenton on Tuesday, outfielder Jose Tabata had to be pulled from Wednesday's game because of more tightness in his left quad. A strained quad is what landed Tabata on the DL, and he has already had to stop his rehab assignment once because of recurring discomfort.
Triple-A reliever Mike Crotta has been placed on the disabled list with forearm soreness. The Pirates expect to get a better estimate on how long Crotta might be sidelined in the next few days. Donnie Veal remains on the Triple-A DL with the same injury.
The Pirates' Aug. 13 game in Milwaukee has been moved to 4:05 p.m. ET and will be shown as the FOX national broadcast. This marks the second time this week a national outlet has announced that it will televise a Pirates game. Monday's meeting against the Braves will be shown on ESPN.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.