Evan Meek not close to beginning a throwing program

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Pirates setup man Evan Meek posted a 2.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 80 innings last season, vaulting himself into the rung of baseball’s elite relievers.

This year, he’s fallen back to earth in a big way.

Meek has made only 17 relief appearances and is on the 15-day disabled list currently for the second time this season due to shoulder inflammation.

Some might say the Bucs overused him in 2010 and that his throwing shoulder is fatigued from the career-high innings total. Whatever the case, he’s not close to getting back to 100 percent.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Meek is still in the “strengthening phase” of his recovery and is not close to gaining clearance to begin a throwing program. He will continue working out at the Pirates’ spring training complex until team trainers feel his shoulder is ready. That may take until August.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.