WASHINGTON – Mark Melancon is back on the Giants’ active roster and eager to flush the bad vibes of a disappointing season marred by a nagging elbow injury.
But for all his health struggles, and the beatdown on team morale that comes with a last-place season, Melancon hasn’t lost his wry sense of humor.
He smiled when asked about his jersey nickname choice for “Players Weekend,” at the end of August. Melancon will wear “STRETCH” on the back of his uniform – a reference to the Fox Sports story in late June that reported Melancon chafed some of his bullpen mates by tweaking their pregame stretching program.
“You guys like that?” he said.
Brandon Crawford will wear B-Craw. Buster Posey will wear Buster. (He should’ve gone with Gerald, though.) Jeff Samardzija is Shark, Matt Cain is Horse and Ty Blach is The Preacher. Hunter Pence is Wawindaji (the Swahili word for Hunter, as Jarrett Parker informed him) while Gorkys Hernandez is going with the Spanish equivalent (Cazador). Austin Slater gets tons of credit from “Saved By the Bell” fans for choosing AC.
Some others are a bit, shall we say, duller. Parker is Park, Hunter Strickland is Strick, Kelby Tomlinson is Tommy and Nick Hundley is Hundo. Kyle Crick is Cricky. Matt Moore is Matty Moe. Denard Span is Spaniard.
Then there are these: Brandon Belt is Belt and Joe Panik is Panik.
Pretty sure we can name Melancon the winner by proclamation. How did he arrive at his choice?
“Well, it was kind of easy,” he said. “It was laid out on the table for me.”
And after the weekend Aug. 25-27, Melancon can put it back on the table.
Willie McCovey had that nickname first, and he’s the rightful owner.
Melancon said he didn’t have a problem pitching in non-leveraged situations as he seeks to get back in the flow of things. He acknowledged that Sam Dyson has done a terrific job (8 for 9 in save chances) while moving into the closer role.
“He’s done an excellent job,” said Melancon, who played with Dyson for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March. “I feel we got a diamond in the rough with him coming to us off waivers.”
Melancon said his goal over the last two months of the season was to “get back to what I’ve done the past three years. Get back in a routine, and do what I’m capable of doing. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been fun. I’m excited to get out there and get going.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he didn’t feel the need to wait to activate Melancon until Sunday’s split doubleheader, even though it’s unlikely he would be asked to pitch on consecutive days.
The club placed infielder Miguel Gomez on the 10-day disabled list when his right knee didn’t pass all the tests in pregame workouts.
The Giants and Nationals each will get a 26th man for Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader. It’s fair to assume the Giants will call up a pitcher. Right-hander Big Dan Slania is closest at Double-A Richmond, but he threw 99 pitches in five innings Saturday. The 40-man roster candidates at Triple-A Sacramento are Derek Law, Steven Okert or Reyes Moronta.
Jeff Samardzija is staying on his usual day and starting Saturday. Chris Stratton, who was supposed to start Friday’s postponed game, will start Game 1 on Sunday (10:05 a.m. PDT first pitch) while Matt Moore will start Game 2 (4:05 p.m. PDT).
The Giants won’t have a fully rested starter for Wednesday in Miami. They could go with Matt Cain or Albert Suarez, or call someone else up. They’ll have to see how much they need to use their long men in the coming days.
Here are lineups as we approach a first pitch that will be delayed due to “approaching inclement weather.” For now, the tarp is on the field and the skies are plenty blue.
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