Melancon Needs To Attack

Mark Melancon wants to be more aggressive

Every rookie always takes something from their first big league experience. In the case of reliever Mark Melancon, despite being known for his aggressive approach at the minor league level, he quickly learned he needs to attack batters even more at the Major League level.

Mark Melancon had a strong 2008 campaign after missing the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery. He threw 95 innings at three different levels in the organization in impressive fashion. The Colorado native earned a 2.27 era, 89 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.96 in those 44 appearances in 2008.

Heading into the 2009 season, he was on the radar of many who follow the Yankees as a guy who could end up being a key contributor in the bullpen in the Bronx when all was said and done.

Due to injuries and inconsistency, Melancon got the call earlier than expected in late April and appeared in four games for the Bombers. As one can imagine, it was a thrill of a lifetime being called up for the first time.

"Oh man, it's a dream come true, ya know, definitely," Melancon said. "It was a great experience being able to go up, first year in the stadium and the team they have up there is magnificent. Unfortunately I wasn't up there at a very good time and I didn't do as well as I'm capable of."

While he didn't show his best stuff up there [5.40 era, five walks, and only two strikeouts in four appearances], walking the bases loaded in his last outing vs. Boston, Melancon took valuable lessons from his first big league stint.

"Just attacking hitters, I showed glimpses of doing that but when you're walking guys that's usually a sign of you're not going after them enough and giving them too much credit."

He feels he can take things from the experience and make himself better for the next time he's up.

"[The] biggest thing I learned, I can't control things that are out of my hands," he said. "If they want to make a move that's up to them, I can't worry about that when I'm out on the mound.

If I walk a guy, I can't think about that because it'll begin to snowball. I just wasn't attacking, I feel I can locate as well as anybody, I just need to stay aggressive and keep attacking."

Melancon hasn't been lights-out of late, allowing five earned runs in his last seven appearances, but he feels healthy and positive about his AAA season so far.

"One-hundred percent healthy with the elbow, without a doubt," he said. "I feel great. Season's been good, [Thursday] night wasn't too great, but I got to have short-term memory with that."

While a few shaky outings in the bigs and a stumble or two in recent weeks down in Triple-A would seem to get any youngster down, Melancon has the well-known makeup to bear down and remain confident in his ability.

With a 2.49 ERA, 27 strikeouts and a WHIP just over 1.00 in 21.2 innings in the AAA season, while not being on top of his game consistently yet, he has reason to be. He looks forward to getting back at it each appearance.

"Everything's been great as far as my stuff," Melancon admitted. "Fastball location recently has been just okay, I show signs of being great but have been kind of get erratic here or there, perhaps trying to do too much in certain counts.

"Scotty [Aldred] and I talked about, [my] mechanics aren't off, everything's been sound, I just gotta keep going at it. I'm excited about being out there pitching. Every time I pitch I learn something new from the outcome, good or bad."

With some more innings under his belt and as he finds consistency, it shouldn't be long before we see Mr. Melancon back in the Bronx bullpen.

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