Beimel's pitch is he's matured
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Joe Beimel has been here before.
Right here ... in Pirate City.
"I'm way different now than I was before," Beimel said. "I'm much wiser."
He then paused, looked up from the stool he was sitting on inside the clubhouse and finished his sentence. "But I'm a much better pitcher also. Don't forget that part. That's the most important thing."
To Beimel, 33, the important stuff isn't what he did in the past for the Pirates, it is what he can do in the future.
The most important stuff isn't to rehash how those tattoos on his right arm came about since his first stint with the Pirates in 2001, although they serve as a reminder of some of the mistakes he has made.
The most important stuff isn't to do a retrospective on how he slashed his finger in a New York bar in 2006 as a member of the Dodgers, subsequently lied about how it happened and had to miss a playoff series because of the injury.
To Beimel, who has pitched for the Pirates, Twins, Rays, Dodgers, Nationals and Rockies, it is more about simply getting batters out as he embarks on his second stint with the Pirates.
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Beimel would like to forget those early days.
"When I was here the first time, I don't think I was very good because now, looking back on it, I don't know what kind of pitcher I was at the time," said Beimel, who pitched in 164 games with the Pirates between 2001-03. "I was out there trying to strike guys out, wasn't throwing strikes. I just watched some of those old tapes and, you know, it really made me sick. ... I'm not that pitcher anymore."
So, what type of pitcher is Beimel? Manager Clint Hurdle has him penciled in as a left-handed bridge between the starters and the back-end of the bullpen of Evan Meek and closer Joel Hanrahan.
"I'm very strong against left-handed hitters and I can get right-handers out, too," said Beimel, who has a career 4.16 ERA. "I think, with me, sometimes I get pigeonholed into being a left-handed specialist. I don't like that, because you are only working one side of the plate. ... I am very confident that I can face both and get both out, and I think that is the opportunity they are going to give me here."
Hurdle said as much Sunday after a workout. He won't use Beimel only against lefties.
And there's something else Hurdle likes about Beimel.
"He has an edge to him that he carries without even opening his mouth," Hurdle said. "He's not a big talker. He's a do-er. I think the guys in the locker room are starting to gravitate toward that a little bit. He doesn't need pom-poms to lead. He goes about his business in a very professional fashion."
All part of the learning process for Beimel, the St. Marys, Pa., native who pitched at Duquesne University.
There is more to this study in maturation, too.
During Beimel's first stint with the Pirates, he embraced being that "hometown guy" and, although he still does, understands there is a need for some temperance.
"The first time I was [with the Pirates] I didn't know how to say 'No,' " he said. "I was meeting people out on the field before games, getting out of my routine, that kind of stuff. Now, though, I've matured in that regard, I know how disciplined I have to be to be successful.
"When you play in your hometown, it is constant, people want to talk to you, your family and friends want to do things all the time. That is great, it is something that's great, but you can't let it distract you from your focus. I think that's something that I've really learned over the years, that you have to stay focused, you have to take advantage of opportunities."
Like this opportunity for Beimel, who has changed so much.
First Published February 21, 2011 12:00 am