Melancon Locating

TRENTON, NJ - Reliever Mark Melancon struggled in his first three games returning from Tommy John surgery, allowing six earned runs for the Tampa Yankees. But posting a scintillating 0.87 ERA over his last 20 2/3 innings in the Florida State League and earning a quick promotion to Double-A, the former University of Arizona closer credits his return to form on improved location.

"It's always a surprise," Mark Melancon said of his promotion to Trenton, "but they kind of told me 'just do your thing and if you do well, you'll get moved up'.

"After struggling [in the beginning] I started pressing, thinking 'I'm not going to get there, I'm not going to get there', and that's when I had to take a step back and not worry about the things that are out of my hands. Once I started pitching well, I didn't worry about [moving up] too much."

After tossing a perfect 1 2/3 innings against the Lakeland Tigers in his season debut on April 4th, and his first competitive game since his final appearance with the West Oahu CaneFires of the Hawaiian Winter League back on October 10, 2006, Melancon saw his ERA balloon to 11.57 after his next two appearances with the Tampa Yankees.

"My location wasn't as good as it should have been," he said, "and it showed up. I was trying to play with a few things mechanically and trying to get my changeup going a little bit better, but after it was all said and done, my location wasn't as good as it should have been."

Perhaps thinking too much on the mound and maybe trying to be too fine in his first few games after completing his rehab this past offseason, Melancon quickly decided it was time to get back to the basics.

"I went back and looked at some notes that I had, stopped worrying about mechanical stuff, and just kept it simple," he said of how he turned things around quickly.

"Really that's all it took and just realize there wasn't any reason I shouldn't have done well there [Tampa] and shouldn't be throwing strikes. I needed a little refreshment on things that worked for me in the past."

Starting to put scoreless appearances together, while the ERA made a precipitous fall, he still wasn't showing the signs of being the dominant relief pitcher he once was, especially with his lack of strikeouts in the early part of his time in Tampa.

"That goes back to my changeup," he opined. "Once you have that third pitch you don't have to use your out-pitch earlier in the count, you can use your out-pitch in an out-pitch situation to strike the guys out.

"That's why I really wanted to iron out the changeup, get it figured out and get to pinpoint the pitch so I can use that curveball in the later parts of the at-bat.

"[The changeup is] still a work in progress but something clicked in the last game that I pitched down there and so we're running with that, and it's been a lot better - just my grip and my mentality when I'm throwing the changeup."

Getting that consistent third pitch was a part of the strikeout equation. The final piece of the puzzle was enhancing the part of the game that traditionally takes longer to retrieve when coming back from Tommy John surgery...command!

"And my location is a lot better," he said why he's striking out more batters. "Your fastball is more than one pitch. If you can locate it, it can be four different pitches. It all comes back to location.

"People always want to talk about velocity, which helps, but it's definitely location that matters the most."

Now fourteen appearances into his return from surgery, and preparing to make his second appearance in Double-A, Melancon has also seen the resurrection of his velocity.

"Yes, yes, I'm getting that power back," he revealed. "I still haven't thrown that many innings since my surgery in competitive innings, but arm feels as good as it ever has.

"I thank the Lord for not having any hiccups along the way in the rehab process and fortunately so far there hasn't been any struggles with the arm up to this point. My arm feels great after I pitch, great before I pitch, during - everything. It's wonderful."

Back to his normal 91-94 MPH range with his fastball, while he would certainly welcome an additional tick or two on the gun as he stretches himself out, he is certainly prepared to pitch at his current velocity level and having a knockout curveball like he has certainly helps.

"It's good," he said of his curve. "Like the changeup and fastball, it wasn't there location-wise early, but it just takes some time and that's something I struggled to deal with.

"I always want to expect myself to throw every pitch perfectly, but it's been a year and a half since I pitched last and I've got to understand that it's coming back."

Striking out four batters in his Double-A debut on Thursday and finally feeling comfortable with the location of all three of his pitches, the right-hander plans on making the most of his opportunity in the Eastern League.

"Stay consistent, continue to throw strikes, locate my pitches, and learn more about the approach of the game," he said of his goals for Double-A. "I want to learn how to handle hitters when they do certain things.

"I just want to be a student of the game. At this level guys get to become more on the same page and you really dial in on certain things with the catchers, so that's what I enjoy about coming up here. I really just want to be a student of the game and continue to be consistent."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's always a surprise,\" Mark Melancon said of his promotion to Trenton, \"but they kind of told me 'just do your thing and if you do well, you'll get moved up'.
\r\n
\r\n\"After struggling [in the beginning] I started pressing, thinking 'I'm not going to get there, I'm not going to get there', and that's when I had to take a step back and not worry about the things that are out of my hands. Once I started pitching well, I didn't worry about [moving up] too much.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter tossing a perfect 1 2/3 innings against the Lakeland Tigers in his season debut on April 4th, and his first competitive game since his final appearance with the West Oahu CaneFires of the Hawaiian Winter League back on October 10, 2006, Melancon saw his ERA balloon to 11.57 after his next two appearances with the Tampa Yankees.
\r\n
\r\n\"My location wasn't as good as it should have been,\" he said, \"and it showed up. I was trying to play with a few things mechanically and trying to get my changeup going a little bit better, but after it was all said and done, my location wasn't as good as it should have been.\"
\r\n
\r\nPerhaps thinking too much on the mound and maybe trying to be too fine in his first few games after completing his rehab this past offseason, Melancon quickly decided it was time to get back to the basics.
\r\n
\r\n\"I went back and looked at some notes that I had, stopped worrying about mechanical stuff, and just kept it simple,\" he said of how he turned things around quickly.
\r\n
\r\n\"Really that's all it took and just realize there wasn't any reason I shouldn't have done well there [Tampa] and shouldn't be throwing strikes. I needed a little refreshment on things that worked for me in the past.\"
\r\n
\r\nStarting to put scoreless appearances together, while the ERA made a precipitous fall, he still wasn't showing the signs of being the dominant relief pitcher he once was, especially with his lack of strikeouts in the early part of his time in Tampa.
\r\n
\r\n\"That goes back to my changeup,\" he opined. \"Once you have that third pitch you don't have to use your out-pitch earlier in the count, you can use your out-pitch in an out-pitch situation to strike the guys out.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's why I really wanted to iron out the changeup, get it figured out and get to pinpoint the pitch so I can use that curveball in the later parts of the at-bat.
\r\n
\r\n\"[The changeup is] still a work in progress but something clicked in the last game that I pitched down there and so we're running with that, and it's been a lot better - just my grip and my mentality when I'm throwing the changeup.\"
\r\n
\r\nGetting that consistent third pitch was a part of the strikeout equation. The final piece of the puzzle was enhancing the part of the game that traditionally takes longer to retrieve when coming back from Tommy John surgery...command!
\r\n
\r\n\"And my location is a lot better,\" he said why he's striking out more batters. \"Your fastball is more than one pitch. If you can locate it, it can be four different pitches. It all comes back to location.
\r\n
\r\n\"People always want to talk about velocity, which helps, but it's definitely location that matters the most.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow fourteen appearances into his return from surgery, and preparing to make his second appearance in Double-A, Melancon has also seen the resurrection of his velocity.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yes, yes, I'm getting that power back,\" he revealed. \"I still haven't thrown that many innings since my surgery in competitive innings, but arm feels as good as it ever has.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thank the Lord for not having any hiccups along the way in the rehab process and fortunately so far there hasn't been any struggles with the arm up to this point. My arm feels great after I pitch, great before I pitch, during - everything. It's wonderful.\"
\r\n
\r\nBack to his normal 91-94 MPH range with his fastball, while he would certainly welcome an additional tick or two on the gun as he stretches himself out, he is certainly prepared to pitch at his current velocity level and having a knockout curveball like he has certainly helps.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's good,\" he said of his curve. \"Like the changeup and fastball, it wasn't there location-wise early, but it just takes some time and that's something I struggled to deal with.
\r\n
\r\n\"I always want to expect myself to throw every pitch perfectly, but it's been a year and a half since I pitched last and I've got to understand that it's coming back.\"
\r\n
\r\nStriking out four batters in his Double-A debut on Thursday and finally feeling comfortable with the location of all three of his pitches, the right-hander plans on making the most of his opportunity in the Eastern League.
\r\n
\r\n\"Stay consistent, continue to throw strikes, locate my pitches, and learn more about the approach of the game,\" he said of his goals for Double-A. \"I want to learn how to handle hitters when they do certain things.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just want to be a student of the game. At this level guys get to become more on the same page and you really dial in on certain things with the catchers, so that's what I enjoy about coming up here. I really just want to be a student of the game and continue to be consistent.\"
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

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