PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- When the Red Sox acquired pitcher Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros in exchange for infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland last December, the right-handed reliever knew the organization was trying to build depth on the pitching staff at both the big league and minor league levels.
After earning a spot on the Sox’s Opening Day roster, Melancon imploded during four outings for Boston, posting a 0-2 record while allowing 11 earned runs in only two innings of work, including five home runs.
He was optioned to Pawtucket on April 20 and has found his form.
Melancon has made 18 appearances and is 9-for-9 in save situations for the PawSox. He has 27 strikeouts and two walks and has allowed only two runs during that stretch. The only problem is there’s no room in Boston right now as the Sox’s bullpen has been solid.
“Physically I feel good. Mentally I feel good,” he said. “It’s a good thing that everybody is doing well up there. When you want to win a world championship and a World Series, you need more than 25 guys, and the other guys play a part at different times. Everybody’s supposed to get up there and stick and do that, but it’s going to take more than 25 and we have to understand that down here.”
When Melancon arrived in Pawtucket, the former closer for the Astros knew he needed to simplify things and do whatever he could to find his form because he did not want to stay in Triple-A. But he remains here for now.
“I still look at it as an opportunity to continue to work on things,” he said. “I’m still working on those same things and I try to go into my outings with a plan for that night and work on an individual thing. It’s getting after it and nothing new really to say.”
Still, it hasn’t all been perfect.
“I felt pretty good about them and then one thing will come real well and then the next you’ll lose a little bit, but that’s constant pitching, that’s nothing new,” he said. “It’s kind of covering up those gaps that you step on the hole in the hose and then you’ve got another one, so it’s constant. At the same time, it’s been good.”
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington made it a point after last season to focus on building pitching depth in the organization. Melancon, who came up through the New York Yankees organization before he was traded to the Astros, knows firsthand how difficult it can be to break into the big leagues when there’s no room in the bullpen.
“At first it’s tough to grasp that because, of course, you want to be up there," he said. "At the same time, I have to realize the situation and embrace it and just do my best every day.”