August 3, 2009 8:15:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Former Mississippi State pitcher Brandon Medders of the San Francisco Giants enjoys it when an opposing team has a player from his alma mater and he gets a chance to reminisce about old times.
Medders was afforded such an opportunity this past week when the Giants played host to the Pittsburgh Pirates at AT&T Park.
Medders, who pitched at MSU in 2000-01, caught up with Pittsburgh pitcher Paul Maholm, who was a Bulldog from 2001-03.
"I''ve watched him grow and become a great pitcher," Medders said. "It''s always fun to play a team and run into an old teammate.
"I''ve yet to see (Boston Red Sox reliever Jonathan) Papelbon, but I used to see (former major leaguer) Jon Knott a lot in the minors. That''s about it."
Medders and Maholm were roommates on the road the only season they played together at MSU in 2001.
The pitchers didn''t get a chance to take the mound in the teams'' three-game series Monday through Wednesday, but they talked at the ballpark.
"It''s good to see him," Maholm said. "We were roommates on the road my first year. It''s good to see guys like that."
Both pitchers acknowledged family obligations make it hard to enjoy the night life after a ballgame.
"When I go there he''s with his wife and his child, and when he comes here I''m with my wife and my child," Medders said. "It''s kind of hard to get together and do stuff."
Maholm said he enjoyed rooming with Medders and learned a lot in their only season as teammates.
"He was fun," Maholm said. "He''s a fun guy. He was an older guy. It was great to be around him and kind of learn the ropes."
Medders is in his first season with the Giants. He was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. He spent parts of four seasons with the Diamondbacks and was 11-6 with a 3.52 ERA.
Medders split time with Arizona and its Class AAA affiliate Tucson last season after full seasons with the Diamondbacks in 2006 and 2007
"I had a rough last two seasons with the Diamondbacks," Medders said. "I was up and down and lacked consistency. It''s tough. It''s very frustrating, especially since you had had success in the big leagues and you''re trying to get back. It can be frustrating if your mind-set is in the wrong place. I think my mind was in the wrong place for a little while. Instead of fighting to get back up, you kind of get down on yourself and you never want to do that, and I let myself slip into that, and I think that''s why I struggled.
"I didn''t have a high ERA, but I was inconsistent and I think it created some questions in their minds. I wasn''t going out and giving up. It was they wanted me to go down and get my confidence up and then when I went down I didn''t do that. I didn''t do that immediately. It took me a while to get my head back right to where I needed to."
Medders, a 6-foot-1, 191-pound right hander from Tuscaloosa, Ala., has made the most of a new lease on life with the Giants. He''s spent the entire season with the team and he''s 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 41 appearances. He has allowed 38 hits in 42 1/3 innings.
Medders has been instrumental in helping the Giants contend for the wild card in the National League. The Giants are 58-47 and tied with the Colorado Rockies for the wild-card lead.
"I''m happy with the way I''m performing," Medders said. "I really hope I can keep doing it, this team can go to the playoffs, and I can contribute as much as I can contribute. We''ve got a real good shot at it.
"We were in the lead (for the wild card) and then we lost the lead and I said I''m not going to worry about that stuff. I''m going to worry about every day and coming in and winning a ballgame. I don''t know who''s leading right now. If you go out every day and win it will take care of itself."
Maholm''s Pirates have fallen out of playoff contention. The Pirates are 45-59 and tied for last place in the National League Central Division.
The Pirates traded pitcher Ian Snell, shortstop Jack Wilson, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and first baseman Adam LaRoche before the trade deadline Friday, but Maholm believes the organization is going in the right direction.
"We''ve got some young guys," Maholm said. "We''ve got a lot of talent. It''s tough to learn in the big leagues, but every day you''re learning and you''re getting more comfortable and hopefully you''re taking the right steps. I think there''s a learning curve for everybody. It''s tough, but I think a lot of young guys are getting their feet wet and getting more comfortable."
Maholm, a 6-2, 224-pound left-hander, is in his fifth season with the Pirates. He is 6-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 22 games. He has allowed 151 hits and 42 walks and struck out 84 in 134 2/3 innings.
He was 3-0 with three no-decisions and a 2.97 ERA in his first six outings before losing to the New York Mets on May 9.
"Up and down," Maholm said of his season. "Some (games) have been good and some have been disappointing, but I look forward to the rest of my starts and just try to get on a roll and finish up this year well.
"I started out well and then I''ve had some rough patches. I''m just trying to be consistent."
The Giants and reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum beat Maholm and the Pirates 4-2 Monday
"He''s fun to watch," Maholm said of Lincecum. "He''s a great pitcher. You have to concentrate on their lineup and not really worry about who you''re facing."