Monday, February 23, 2009
Pitcher Mark Melancon springs up the charts at Yankees camp
New York Daily News
"Mark Melancon looked at the workout schedule Sunday morning, a daily ritual for virtually every player in camp. He knew he was penciled in for live batting practice, but when the 23-year-old saw Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano were in the group hitting against him, he texted his father back in Colorado.
"He said, 'Just picture your mom standing in there,'" Melancon said. "I said, 'No thanks. I'll be fine.'"
Melancon was right. He threw 30 pitches during his session, getting Jeter to swing and miss a couple times and breaking Cano's bat with a filthy four-seam fastball.
With Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman watching the pitcher many think could be Mariano Rivera's successor, Melancon took advantage of an opportunity to impress, something he hopes to do every time he takes the mound this spring.
"I think I'm ready," Melancon said when asked if he feels he belongs in the majors. "I still think I have a lot of learning to do. I'm definitely not at the level I want to be at."
Confident words from a pitcher with just 12 games of experience at the Triple-A level. But having worked his way back from reconstructive elbow surgery, Melancon doesn't come off as arrogant. It's more a case of ... he's good, and he knows it.
With Joba Chamberlain's future seemingly locked in as a starter, there are those - both inside and outside the organization - who believe Melancon will be Rivera's successor when the Hall of Fame closer finally hangs up his spikes.
While Girardi tried to quell any talk about Melancon succeeding Rivera, the topic didn't seem to faze the youngster.
"It's not overwhelming, because I know it's not true unless I make it true," Melancon said. "I think it's able to be done, so I'm excited for that. I'm excited that people are throwing that out there, but I know it's not true until I make it true.""