"It will be special to see the fans, I'm really excited about that. The ones that were here for all those years, I'm looking forward to saying hello to everyone," Casey said.
Not only did Casey put up big numbers and become a perennial fan favorite, but he also was widely known for his work in the community and charities, and the fans will certainly embrace him upon his return.
"There are some people that have really touched my family and I. After I was traded and I saw some of the things that people had written in [to the newspapers], it was special."
Casey pondered the offseason and how he has dealt with making the move.
"When I first got traded, it was a weird few weeks there," Casey said. "The [Pirates] organization is great and some of the guys like Joe Randa I already know, so that's made it a little easier, but when you play one place for eight years, it's never that easy."
Does he remain a Reds fan?
"I still keep tabs on them," he said.
Although, his new Buc teammates won't let him dwell on the past too much.
"Whenever I look at the Reds stuff in the paper, the guys tell me to turn the page," Casey said. [
Maholm ready to rock: Being the Pirates' fifth starter, Paul Maholm is ready to get his 2006 campaign underway.
"Sitting around for four or five days, I'm kind of chomping at the bit to get it underway," he said.
He might really be itching to take the mound against the Reds in particular, since in 2005 he had two stellar outings against them. He went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA, including hurling eight scoreless frames in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17.
"My game plan really doesn't change a whole lot, but it's good that I've seen their hitters, but they've also seen every pitch that I've got," Maholm said. It's just a matter of who can make the adjustment quicker."
Taking the patient approach: Even though the Pirates were swept in Milwaukee, skipper Jim Tracy's managing style and demeanor won't let the team get frustrated with the 0-3 start. Especially since all three games were extremely tight.
On the other side of the spectrum, he's seen early success not evolve into a great season. "A lot was said about the great start that the team I managed a year ago, when we won 12 of our first 14 games," he remembered. His Dodgers team slowed considerably and finished fourth in the N.L. West, with a 71-91 mark. "So, you shouldn't be pressing when you go out there and see your club do a number of wonderful things. Plus, you'd be hard pressed to convince me that the combination of Casey, [Jason] Bay, [Jeromy] Burnitz and [Joe] Randa will be kept at bay for the entire season."Coming up: Maholm, a former No. 1 draft pick, gets the ball Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET as the Pirates face the Reds at the Great American Ball Park. Eric Milton will start for Cincinnati.
Brian Connors Manke is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.