Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 2/23/12
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Photo by Mark Olson

BRADENTON — Right-hander Evan Meek focused on several things over the offseason: getting his arm healthy, getting strong, and getting into better shape.

The 2011 season was frustrating for Meek, coming off a year prior in which he was named a Pirates All-Star after posting a 1.11 ERA in 40 games before the break. Meek landed on the disabled list twice in 2011 with right shoulder tendinitis and appeared in just 24 games.

“There’s a chip on my shoulder from last year,” Meek said. “There’s a lot of lost time. I just feel like I want to go back out there and prove myself again, prove that what I did in 2010 wasn’t a just a fluke. I feel like I can get back to there and that’s really what was on my mind all offseason. I really wanted to get healthy, compete and help the team.”

Meek said he has lost 16 pounds over the offseason. The main reason for getting in better shape? A bike.

“I cycled a lot actually,” Meek said. “I bought a bike and rode around, just ate better, more consistent with workouts.”

“I just had a better regimen, I guess. More disciplined. I just focused on trying to lose weight and get strong, really just get my arm strong, come into spring in really good shape.”

So far this spring, Meek has thrown two bullpen sessions, and said his arm is feeling great. During Tuesday’s session, Meek threw about 50 pitches –the most in a bullpen since he was a starter. Meek’s last start was in 2006 in the minors with High-A Lake Elsinore (San Diego).

“I threw more pitches [Tuesday] in my bullpen than I think I’ve thrown in a bullpen since I was a starter,” Meek said. “I threw a lot, I think 50 of them. It went good, arm feels good. I guess, just trying to get the arm and the body timing down. As soon as we start seeing some hitters in there, the games start, getting into that atmosphere, things will start to click. I think everyone’s still kind of getting their kinks out, and that’s what these bullpens are for. I think that’s why I threw so many.”

Meek will be battling for a spot in the Pirates rather crowded bullpen. A now healthy Meek will look to pitch in the late innings, and hand the ball over to closer Joel Hanrahan.

“Obviously my goal is to make the team, to be healthy, and to really dominate. That’s really my goal. To go out there and just pitch how I know I can pitch, how everyone else knows how I can pitch.”

“A lot of this offseason was really just getting and making sure that my arm was healthy, getting strong, and just getting into overall better shape and conditioning. That was my main priority.”

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