Pirates Notebook: Maholm adamant he is not hurting

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MIAMI -- Paul Maholm has experienced discomfort in his left knee and groin at various points in the season, but he emphatically rejected that they have hampered his pitching.

"No, not at all," he said before a workout yesterday at Land Shark Stadium.

The left knee was sprained near the beginning of the season, he divulged, but it was well enough that he dominated his first three starts. The groin injury, he added, happened June 21 during a rough outing in Denver. But the only change caused by either matter has been an alteration to his between-starts routine to try to fortify each.

General manager Neal Huntington called Maholm "a tough player who's not the type to make excuses" and, true to that description, Maholm declined to offer either as even a partial explanation for his ERA rising from 0.87 after that third start to its current 4.69, a season high.

"I'm perfectly fine to pitch," he said. "I just need to make better pitches."

Sanchez a late scratch

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez was scratched two hours before the game last night because of tightness in his lower right back. He initially felt it when getting out of a taxi outside the stadium.

He will be evaluated again today.

Jones' stock soars

How impressed has manager John Russell been with Garrett Jones?

"I'm getting excited about our lineup, to be honest with you, and that has a lot to do with Garrett," Russell said before the game. "Once we get Ryan Doumit back, I think it's going to be interesting. He could be one of those guys who just hasn't been given the opportunity. We think he looks really good, and we're looking forward to seeing more."

Jones, blocked by top talent while in the Minnesota system, was promoted by the Pirates Tuesday.

Told of the nature of Russell's remarks, he smiled.

"That's great, obviously," Jones said. "It's a great chance for me, and I'm just looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the team win."

Buried treasure

• Doumit began his rehabilitation assignment with rookie-level Bradenton by going 0 for 2 with a walk, strikeout and flyout in a Gulf Coast League game in Dunedin, Fla. He also caught five innings. He is expected to play one more game in Florida, then join Class AAA Indianapolis for a week or more, depending on his wrist.

Ramon Vazquez took Sanchez's place, giving him three starts in a row. He hit a two-run homer in the second last night.

• Center fielder Andrew McCutchen was beaten out for the National League's rookie of the month award for June by Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson, who went 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA. McCutchen batted .284 with 18 RBIs.



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