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By Zane Heiple
Kevin Correia Was Named Opening Day Starter
Part Two of our five-part series looks at the five men who will be taking the mound to start the game for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kevin Correia:  This will be Kevin’s first season in Pittsburgh after signing with the team as a free agent in December.  He began his career with the San Francisco Giants in 2002 as a fourth round pick out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  Correia made his debut with the Giants during the 2003 season where he went 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA.  During his time in San Francisco, he was used as both a starting and relief pitcher.  After a rough 2007 season, Kevin signed with his hometown team the San Diego Padres, where he stayed for three years.  His best year with the Padres was 2009 where he started 33 games and posted a 12-11 record with a 3.91 ERA.  Through 2010 he has a 36-43 record with a 4.57 ERA.  Correia was named the Opening Day starter for the Buccos on March 24 by manager Clint Hurdle.  This spring, he has posted a 1-3 record with a 5.93 ERA.  Correia has given up 16 runs on 32 hits while striking out 20 and walking 8.  As a team, the Pirates hope Kevin can bring leadership to the young pitching staff.
Paul Maholm:  Out of the five players who make up the Pirates’ rotation, Maholm has the most experience with the team as this will be his seventh season in a Pittsburgh uniform.  Paul was a first round draft choice of the Buccos in 2003 out of Mississippi State and made his debut with the club in August of 2005.  His best full season with the Pirates was in 2008 when he went 9-9 with a 3.71 ERA.  For his career, Paul is 47-59 with a 4.48 ERA.  Fans will be looking for him to rebound from a tough 2010 season that saw him go 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA.  Maholm will start the Pirates’ home opener on April 7 against the Colorado Rockies and is the only left-handed pitcher currently in the rotation.  His Spring Training statistics include a 0-3 record with a 4.68 ERA.  While on the mound, he has given up 13 runs on 31 hits and has 18 strikeouts to 5 walks.
Ross Ohlendorf:  Ross will begin his fourth season with the Pirates as the third starter in the rotation.  Ohlendorf was a fourth round draft pick out of Princeton by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004.  While in the Minor Leagues in 2006, Ohlendorf was traded to the New York Yankees as part of the Randy Johnson deal.  He made his Major League debut in 2007 as a relief pitcher in six games with the Yankees.  In July 2008 Ross was once again traded, this time to the Pirates in a deal that also brought Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutcheon for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.  Ohlendorf was called up in September and go 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in five starts.  His best season so far with Pittsburgh was 2009 when he went 11-10 with a 3.92 ERA.  He definitely needs a good showing in the 2011 regular season after coming off a 2010 season that saw him go 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA and a Spring Training that includes an 0-4 record and a 10.05 ERA.
Charlie Morton:  Morton was the final starter named to the rotation coming out of Spring Training.  He will be fourth in the rotation due to an injury suffered by James McDonald.  Charlie is a former 2002 third round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves out of Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut.  Charlie made his debut with the Braves in June of 2008 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  In June of 2009 he came to the Pirates in a trade along with Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke for Nate McClouth.  A week after the trade, Morton would earn a no-decision in his first start with the Buccos.  Charlie has yet to reach the potential that scouts have placed upon him.  Pirates’ fans are growing tired of hearing about how good his stuff is.  With a career record of 11-29 with a 5.98 ERA, 2011 might be his last chance to nail down a starting job as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It would be nice for him to carry over his Spring Training statistics of 1-0 and a 3.32 ERA with seven runs on 14 hits, 20 strikeouts and eight walks into the regular season.
James McDonald:  The youngest member of the Pirates’ staff at 26 years of age, McDonald may also have the brightest future of the Pittsburgh’s rotation.  Before coming to the Buccos in a trade that also involved Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel in July of 2010, James was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eleventh round of 2002 draft out of Long Beach Poly High School in California.  He made his Dodgers debut in 2008 and started his first game in 2009.  McDonald went 4-5 with a 4.02 ERA in twelve starts with the Pirates after the trade.  Had it not been for a Spring Training injury, James could have been the number three starter in the rotation.  In limited action this spring, he has gone 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA while giving up three earned runs on ten hits, two strikeouts and three walks.
These five players will have a lot to say in whether or not the Pirates remain competitive throughout the 2011 season.  Please check back tomorrow as we look at the men responsible for finishing games off as Part Three of the series will focus on the relief pitchers.
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!