Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bedard Hunts for a Big Season Left-Handed Starter Getting to Know His New Players, Surroundings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bedard Hunts for a Big Season Left-Handed Starter Getting to Know His New Players, Surroundings

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. --

Erik Bedard had only spent a day and a half in Florida, but he heard some familiar conversation in the Pirates spring training clubhouse.

Bedard, a left-handed starter whom the Pirates signed as a free agent this winter, spends his offseason in Ottawa. This Ontario native hunts deer, though he also traveled to Saskatchewan -- "That's where the big guys are" -- and Montana.

"The first thing I noticed is, a lot of hunters," Bedard said. "They're easy to interact with. When you have something in common it's easier to get to know them faster."

Bedard began that process over the weekend before pitchers and catchers officially reported. Now he will continue preparing himself for a successful and injury-free first season with the Pirates.

"Stay healthy the whole year, bring some experience to the team and try to help the team win," he said of his focuses for the season.

Bedard, who signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason, has had success with the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox in his eight-year career. He strikes out 8.8 batters per nine innings, including 125 in 1291/3 innings last season and a career-high 221 in 2007. Injuries, however, limited him to 15 starts in '08 and '09 and prevented him from pitching in the majors at all in '10.

"He's always had good results when he's been on the mound," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "His goal is to get out there and pitch more games than he has in the past with more consistency and to develop that way, but also to be a part of a rotation where, yes, he's one of the guys, but he's counted on in a significant way."

Bedard missed the second half of the '08 season with a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery, and pitched the first four months of '09 before he had another procedure on his shoulder. He needed a third surgery in August '10.

Last season, he went 5-9 in 24 starts for the Mariners and Red Sox with a 3.62 ERA. Bedard pitched for most of the season, but a knee injury affected him and he missed time in September while with the Red Sox.

"His own individual seasoning, where he is career-wise, you take away his last two months of the ['11] season, he was in a very lucrative and appealing position," Hurdle said. …

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