Shelled in the majors yet utterly dominant in AAA, Mark Melancon has made his return to the Red Sox clubhouse.
Demoted in April following a dismal Boston debut in which, in four outings, he gave up 11 runs on 10 hits in 2.0 innings, Melancon was called up from Pawtucket for today’s series finale with Washington.
“After five or six times of doing it, you realize it doesn’t help to go down there and get pissed off,” Melancon said. “It’s tough to go down there after you’ve had a couple bad outings, but you’ve got to make the best of it. That’s what I was trying to do.”
Melancon certainly made the best of his stint in the International League, compiling a 0.83 ERA in 21 innings.
“A lot of people ask me, was it confidence? No it wasn’t confidence,” Melancon said of his initial struggles in Boston. “I really didn’t think it was, and I still don’t think that’s what it was. Simply aggressiveness and approach.”
In those outings, Melancon allowed just 15 hits and 2 earned runs, and sported a 9.00 (27:3) strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“Every report was excellent,” Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “From about the third day that he got there, he regained command of his fastball, his curveball, I’m not sure if it got sharper, but it became a much more functional pitch, and he started throwing his changeup, also. He threw to both sides of the plate. He maintained his velocity. He pitched one and two innings. He did everything. He would have been back sooner if our bullpen wasn’t doing as well as it has been.”
Melancon, who said he hasn’t been told what his role with the Sox would be, didn’t feel that mechanical issues contributed to his struggles in his first season with Boston after coming over from Houston.
Boston’s relievers have been quite effective thus far this season. The pen ranks second in the majors with a 2.10 ERA since April 23. This, Melancon said, alleviated the frustration of remaining in AAA.
“It was easier when our guys up here were doing well,” he said. “Obviously you don’t wish for an injury. When they set the bar as high as they were, it was obvious why I was down there kind of hanging out.”
As far as the welcome he received in the Red Sox clubhouse upon arriving this morning? Melancon went academic for that answer.
“I guess it’s like if you go to a different school and you come back, you see all your old friends,” he said. “Just a good feeling.
“It’s nice to know that when these guys have your back, it’s a good feeling. That’s what you want, that sometimes you don’t know.”
To make room for Melancon, Rich Hill was put on the DL with reported left elbow/forearm soreness. He last pitched on Friday against the Nationals, throwing a scoreless inning with two hits and one strikeout. Hill had a 2.63 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 17 games.
Hill, for his part, told reporters that he had no answers, but said he planned to see Dr. James Andrews, the famed Tommy John specialist who performed the surgery on Hill last year, in Pensecola, Fla., tomorrow morning.
Read more about Hill’s injury here on Extra Bases.