3/31 Maholm happy to say bye to Pujols

Paul Maholm admitted he felt a little “off” with his mechanics on Saturday.

“They had a pretty decent lineup,” the lefty said of the Angels.

Maholm gave up two runs on three hits, including a two-run homer by Albert Pujols in the first, over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six.

“The first pitch to Pujols wasn’t supposed to be right down the middle and it was,” Maholm said. “He’s paid pretty well to do that.”

Maholm won’t have to face Pujols again until an Interleague matchup.

“There’s a reason I made sure no [American League] West team was on my wish list,” said Maholm, a free agent this offseason.

Maholm will pitch at Fitch Park on Wednesday, then join the Cubs in Chicago for Opening Day at Wrigley Field on Thursday. How good is the Cubs rotation?

“We’ll have to see,” Maholm said. “With [Ryan Dempster], he’s got a good track record. [Matt Garza] has the stuff and everything to be an ace, and the rest of us have to do our job. It’ll be on us. We’ll learn from each other, push each other and have fun and try to out pitch each other.”

Maholm has spent his entire career with the Pirates. How does he compare this spring with other camps?

“I thought everything was perfect,” he said. “Guys, on a consistent basis, were here early every morning, getting extra work in, making sure they were prepared to go on the field and when games start, guys were busting it. You don’t see a lot of guys taking it like, oh, it’s just Spring Training. We have to get ready and push ourselves to get ready for the season. I think that’s kind of [Dale Sveum’s] personality. You work hard, play hard and have fun later.”

Clint Hurdle set the tone with the Pirates last season. Maholm said Sveum isn’t as loud as Hurdle.

“You respect the guy for coming in, laying it down and saying this is how we’re going to play and this is what I expect, and guys are taking a hold of it,” Maholm said.

— Carrie Muskat

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