Thursday, September 1, 2005

Maholm moves up to big leagues

Paul Maholm of Holly Springs made his major league debut Tuesday night for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Maholm, the Bucs’ top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, had his contract purchased from Indianapolis on Saturday. The 23-year-old southpaw was 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 22 combined starts with the Triple-A Indians and Double-A Altoona.

He was scheduled to start on the mound Monday afternoon when Pittsburgh hosted Cincinnati at PNC Park. However, that game was rained out, and his debut was shifted to Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Doug Davis, 9-9 with a 4.03 ERA, was scheduled to start for the Brewers.

“I was surprised,” Maholm said of the promotion. “I wasn’t on the 40-man roster or anything. Words can’t describe how you feel when you find out because you work so long to get here. With all that I have gone through the past two years, it’s fun to be here and see what I’ve got against these guys.”

The former Mississippi State star is the son of Gary Maholm of Holly Springs and the late Linda Maholm.

His rapid ascension through the Bucs farm system hasn’t come easily. He was struck in the face by a line drive on May 15, 2004, while pitching for Class A Lynchburg, an injury that required multiple surgeries to repair fractured orbital bones and a broken nose. He returned to the mound before the end of the 2004 season, and he was promoted to Double-A after a strong showing this past spring training. Tragedy struck the Maholm family again when his mother Linda passed away in early July. One week later he pitched in the All-Star Futures Game at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

“This is really quicker than I thought I’d be up here,” Maholm said. “You’ve just got to take it and run with it now.”

Pittsburgh Manager Lloyd McClendon has been impressed by Maholm’s ability to fight through adversity.

“It shows you how much of a competitor he really is,” said McClendon. “He’s a strike thrower. He knows how to pitch. He has good poise; he’s a great competitor; and he won’t be overwhelmed.”

The Pirates entered Tuesday’s game with a 54-77 record, 29 games out of first place. Milwaukee entered 64-67, 19 games out. St. Louis has dominated the National League Central this season.

(Editor’s Note: Portions of this story were reprinted from the web sites of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Altoona Curve.)

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