Melancon Takes The First Step

Mark Melancon is a name Yankees fans should be familiar with, and if they're not, they will be soon enough. Many insiders within the organization believe he is a big league pitcher in the minor leagues right now and that he could make a Joba-like ascension to the Major Leagues this season if all goes as planned. He took his first step towards possibly achieving that goal on Friday.

As a recipient of Tommy John surgery in 2006 and after a year of rehab, the right-hander has been itching to get back on the field. As with many power pitchers who undergo this surgery, the main concern is whether or not they can get their velocity back to its peak. Some of these issues were addressed going into Spring Training.

"Honestly I felt really good," said Mark Melancon. "I pitched down in the Dominican Republic prior to Spring Training and I felt really good down there. I had no problems with the arm so I felt excited for Spring Training. I feel like I'm 100 percent."

Although physically ready for the big leagues, Melancon - who had just seven career appearances prior to Friday night's return with the Tampa Yankees - hopes to address an area of his game while working his way up through the minors.

"Location," he admitted. "I think you can always work on your location. I don't think velocity is the biggest thing I needed to work on. I think that most guys would say the same answer.

"I don't think surgery messed me up at all with my location. I think it helped because I got to work on some mechanics and iron out some things that needed to be ironed out."

According to him, they were little things that are probably unnoticeable to most for example, where he keeps his hands is one of the subtle adjustments he has made during rehab. After such a prolonged absence from playing, just being on the field was definitely a bright spot.

"This has been such a long process, but now that we're back on the field it seems normal again and I'm excited."

Of course there were some bumps along the road. Melancon was slated to pitch in the home opener for the Tampa Yankees last Thursday but because he was left off of the roster, he was an ineligible pitcher and his season debut was put on hold. Admittedly, it did put a little damper on things.

"Shoot, I haven't been here for a year and a half, but mistakes happen, it's not a big deal. I was excited to pitch but what can you do, mistakes are going to happen."

However, even with that minor fiasco his outlook on the season remains bright as he has full confidence in himself and what he can accomplish.

"Honestly, I just want to be consistent and if I do that I think I'll be fine and do well," he said of his goals for this season. "I know I have the ability to be in the big leagues but it's a matter of time and consistency, and being out there long enough to prove myself."

As modest as he is, there are still people who believe he can make that Joba-like jump to the Major Leagues because his stuff really is that good. Even with all of these expectations, he does not shy away from the comparisons or challenges.

"Oh that's nice; I thank Joba [Chamberlain] and Ian [Kennedy] for doing that because it opened up some eyes, not just with Yankees but with every club. It shows that young guys can do it and I thank them for doing that.

"It's fun to see them do well because they were down here just last year. It gives you hope, after talking with a lot of the older guys, they sometimes didn't have that feeling of hope. It makes it all the better to know that you have that opportunity to move up."

He will certainly be given that chance to move up through the organization. The Yankees must have an enormous level of confidence in the right-hander to extend him an invitation to Big League camp with virtually no professional experience.

In some cases this could be very intimidating, but instead Melancon was overwhelmed with happiness as it was a valuable learning experience.

"I was just so happy to be there, it was awesome," he said. "It was everything you think it would be. I got to talk to a lot of the 'big dogs' and everybody was just a good quality guy. I got to learn a lot from [Andy] Pettitte and Mariano [Rivera] and all of the [future] Hall of Famers."

When asked who stood out to him the most, it should be no surprise that current Yankees' closer and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was the top choice.

"What can I say, it's Mo," he said with a smile. "He's just a solid guy off the field, which I respect most."

He was also given a little advice from the legend himself. Although they were little things, coming from a person like Mariano Rivera puts it even more into perspective because it shows the level of detail you have to consider when you are playing at the highest level.

"They were little things such as looking at the runner at third base or throwing to first, little things on pickoffs. It was just fun to be in a group with those guys."

Regarded by many already as a big leaguer merely pitching in the minor leagues, he has confidence that his time in the minors will allow him to make the necessary adjustments to make the jump to the majors.

"I think I have the ability, it's just a matter of time and consistency and learning the ropes a little bit," he said. "Pitching is pitching wherever it is. Obviously there a few adjustments to make but I'm definitely ready for that time."

His goals for the season are quite clear.

"Like I said, be consistent, work on my location and continue to work on my changeup. The changeup is coming along good so far. It's close; I just need to throw it more."

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nAs a recipient of Tommy John surgery in 2006 and after a year of rehab, the right-hander has been itching to get back on the field. As with many power pitchers who undergo this surgery, the main concern is whether or not they can get their velocity back to its peak. Some of these issues were addressed going into Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"Honestly I felt really good,\" said Mark Melancon. \"I pitched down in the Dominican Republic prior to Spring Training and I felt really good down there. I had no problems with the arm so I felt excited for Spring Training. I feel like I'm 100 percent.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlthough physically ready for the big leagues, Melancon - who had just seven career appearances prior to Friday night's return with the Tampa Yankees - hopes to address an area of his game while working his way up through the minors.
\r\n
\r\n\"Location,\" he admitted. \"I think you can always work on your location. I don't think velocity is the biggest thing I needed to work on. I think that most guys would say the same answer.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think surgery messed me up at all with my location. I think it helped because I got to work on some mechanics and iron out some things that needed to be ironed out.\"
\r\n
\r\nAccording to him, they were little things that are probably unnoticeable to most for example, where he keeps his hands is one of the subtle adjustments he has made during rehab. After such a prolonged absence from playing, just being on the field was definitely a bright spot.
\r\n
\r\n\"This has been such a long process, but now that we're back on the field it seems normal again and I'm excited.\"
\r\n
\r\nOf course there were some bumps along the road. Melancon was slated to pitch in the home opener for the Tampa Yankees last Thursday but because he was left off of the roster, he was an ineligible pitcher and his season debut was put on hold. Admittedly, it did put a little damper on things.
\r\n
\r\n\"Shoot, I haven't been here for a year and a half, but mistakes happen, it's not a big deal. I was excited to pitch but what can you do, mistakes are going to happen.\"
\r\n
\r\nHowever, even with that minor fiasco his outlook on the season remains bright as he has full confidence in himself and what he can accomplish.
\r\n
\r\n\"Honestly, I just want to be consistent and if I do that I think I'll be fine and do well,\" he said of his goals for this season. \"I know I have the ability to be in the big leagues but it's a matter of time and consistency, and being out there long enough to prove myself.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs modest as he is, there are still people who believe he can make that Joba-like jump to the Major Leagues because his stuff really is that good. Even with all of these expectations, he does not shy away from the comparisons or challenges.
\r\n
\r\n\"Oh that's nice; I thank Joba [Chamberlain] and Ian [Kennedy] for doing that because it opened up some eyes, not just with Yankees but with every club. It shows that young guys can do it and I thank them for doing that.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's fun to see them do well because they were down here just last year. It gives you hope, after talking with a lot of the older guys, they sometimes didn't have that feeling of hope. It makes it all the better to know that you have that opportunity to move up.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe will certainly be given that chance to move up through the organization. The Yankees must have an enormous level of confidence in the right-hander to extend him an invitation to Big League camp with virtually no professional experience.
\r\n
\r\nIn some cases this could be very intimidating, but instead Melancon was overwhelmed with happiness as it was a valuable learning experience.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was just so happy to be there, it was awesome,\" he said. \"It was everything you think it would be. I got to talk to a lot of the 'big dogs' and everybody was just a good quality guy. I got to learn a lot from [Andy] Pettitte and Mariano [Rivera] and all of the [future] Hall of Famers.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhen asked who stood out to him the most, it should be no surprise that current Yankees' closer and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was the top choice.
\r\n
\r\n\"What can I say, it's Mo,\" he said with a smile. \"He's just a solid guy off the field, which I respect most.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe was also given a little advice from the legend himself. Although they were little things, coming from a person like Mariano Rivera puts it even more into perspective because it shows the level of detail you have to consider when you are playing at the highest level.
\r\n
\r\n\"They were little things such as looking at the runner at third base or throwing to first, little things on pickoffs. It was just fun to be in a group with those guys.\"
\r\n
\r\nRegarded by many already as a big leaguer merely pitching in the minor leagues, he has confidence that his time in the minors will allow him to make the necessary adjustments to make the jump to the majors.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I have the ability, it's just a matter of time and consistency and learning the ropes a little bit,\" he said. \"Pitching is pitching wherever it is. Obviously there a few adjustments to make but I'm definitely ready for that time.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis goals for the season are quite clear.
\r\n
\r\n\"Like I said, be consistent, work on my location and continue to work on my changeup. The changeup is coming along good so far. It's close; I just need to throw it more.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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