Pre-game: Too early to panic over Meek’s last two outings


Of course reliever Evan Meek isn’t happy with his last two outings. After holding the eighth inning on Opening Day with one hit allowed then three straight outs — including two strikeouts — he blew a save and took the loss in the eighth inning on Saturday then nearly blew it again against the Cardinals on Monday.

But the 27-year-old right-hander said today that he isn’t letting himself worry too much over his early struggles just yet.

“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,” Meek said today. “Much too early to panic.”

I’ve got to go with him on this one. Does Meek have a long and storied history of success? Of course not. Last year was his first full season in the majors and he’s struggled in the past. But he still should get the benefit of the doubt here. At the very least, before people start talking about his 2010 All-Star season being a fluke — or before any earnest judgment of anything, really — let’s maybe get past the first week.

For his part, Meek said he expects to get the ball tonight against the Cardinals.

“I can’t wait, I’m scratching my head,” said Meek, who’s been sick but said that hasn’t affected his pitching. “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. That’s just… 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. Today’s our fifth game so you can’t panic right now.”

For the Pirates:
Tabata 7
Walker 4
McCutchen 8
Overbay 3
Alvarez 5
Diaz 9
Jaramillo 2
Cedeno 6
McDonald 1

For the Cards:
Theriot 6
Rasmus 8
Pujols 3
Berkman 9
Craig 7
Freese 5
Schumaker 4
Laird 2
McClellan 1

This will be Matt Diaz’s first start in right field for the Pirates this year, and Kyle McClellan’s first start…ever. The 26-year-old right-hander has pitched 202 games and three full seasons in relief in the majors.

And for those making the trek down on Thursday for the home opener, gates open at 11:30 a.m. Pre-game festivities include, in order, the announcement of the Pride of the Pirates award, a tribute to the late Chuck Tanner, a military tribute and a moment of silence for both members of the Pirates family who’ve passed away and those impacted by the recent earthquake in Japan. The Star Spangled Banner will be performed by O.A.R. saxophonist Jerry DePizzo and the first pitch will be thrown out by Bruce Tanner, son of Chuck Tanner, and caught by Manny Sanguillen. Pirates charities will also be collecting donations at the gate to benefit victims of the disaster in Japan, with proceeds going to UNICEF.

That is all for now…