Evan Meek's average fastball velocity this season is 91.9 mph.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ATLANTA -- Evan Meek wants to pitch late in the game.
He wants to pitch with the lead, and he knows he has the ability to help the team when doing so. To regain that role, Meek said, he has to earn it.
The Pirates optioned Meek to Class AAA Indianapolis after Monday's game. They did not announce a corresponding roster move, which will be made today.
Meek will use his time in Indianapolis to work on two-inning outings, back-to-back games and late-inning situations, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
"I understand what my role is," Meek said. "I understand that, hey, they're giving me opportunities to get back to where we need to be. We've got guys that Clint trusts, that Ray [Searage] trusts, that our team trusts, that I trust, to throw in that seventh, eighth inning with the lead. I'm grateful that we have those guys. I'm grateful that we've got good teammates down there that are picking me up and patting me on the back."
Meek allowed runs in four of his nine outings this season, including two of his previous three. He entered the game Friday with the bases loaded and allowed two hits that scored four runs. He had allowed 12 hits in 92/3 innings entering Monday's game.
"I don't want to go out there and give up three, four hits and three runs, go in there with guys on base and give up those guys' runs too," Meek said. "My goal is to look back in a week from now, two weeks from now, look back at April and just laugh about it."
In 2010, Meek was an All-Star and one of the most reliable relievers in the bullpen. Illness and injury derailed his '11 season. His velocity, which was lower than usual in spring training, has started to rebound, touching 94 and 95 mph in recent outings.
The velocity has not entirely recovered to previous levels -- according to Fangraphs.com, Meek's average fastball velocity this season is 91.9 mph, down from 92.6 mph in 2011 and 94.5 in '10 -- but has come on of late, and isn't the most important aspect of his repertoire at this time.
"Velocity's not at the top of our list of things to cover," Hurdle said.
Meek said he watched video of his recent outings and saw that he gave up hits on pitches he left up in the strike zone, a consequence of not finishing his delivery.
"The other day, the ball was elevated and he wasn't finishing," Hurdle said. "By finishing it, also, it will give that ball more cut, more of the natural cut he's had in the past."
Meek said he is healthy and capable of the adjustments necessary to finish his delivery.
"I guess I'm just trying to embrace the process of getting back," Meek said.
Congratulations in order
Class AAA Indianapolis left-hander Justin Wilson was named the International League's pitcher of the week Monday after pitching 71/3 innings of a combined no-hitter Sunday.
Hurdle said he spoke to Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer and told him to congratulate Wilson, Jose Diaz and Doug Slaten on their performance.
"Justin is still trying to establish himself, build upon consistency, repeatable delivery," Hurdle said. [Sunday] night was obviously one of his better performances. Good velocity, the breaking ball came into play."