Me­lan­con ad­justs qui­etly, as usual

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - By Chelsea Janes

In the lit­tle more than a month he has been with the Washington Na­tion­als, Mark Me­lan­con’s voice has not fluc­tu­ated much at all. He is not in the club­house of­ten. But when Me­lan­con does pause at his locker, or greets a pass­ing team­mate, he does so softly.

A while back, man­ager Dusty Baker asked Me­lan­con if he was en­joy­ing his time as a Na­tional.

“He just, in that same tone of voice, said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it,’ ” Baker re­called, try­ing to sub­sti­tute a mono­tone for his usual ex­pres­sive­ness.

Me­lan­con has ex­uded an even- keeled, roll-with- thep­unches vibe since the day he ar­rived. He qui­etly gets his treat­ment be­fore the games, then dis­ap­pears to work out af­ter them. He has not slipped un­no­ticed into the Na­tion­als club­house, but he has, seem­ingly, slipped in with­out much trou­ble.

He has had to ad­just, be­cause the Pi­rates did not use him the way Baker does. Of Me­lan­con’s 45 ap­pear­ances for the Pi­rates this sea­son, 33 came in save op­por­tu­ni­ties. Of his 21 ap­pear­ances for the Na­tion­als, 11 have been save op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I had not been used prior to this in non­save sit­u­a­tions like I have, and I don’t want to be down when there is a save sit­u­a­tion,” Me­lan­con said. “Even in a tie game, I feel like I want to be able to con­trib­ute there. That’s been dif­fer­ent a lit­tle bit.”

The Na­tion­als have 19 reg­u­lar-sea­son games re­main­ing. As of Mon­day, Me­lan­con is 12 ap­pear­ances shy of his ca­reer high, 78, which he set last sea­son. He is 151⁄ in­nings away from his ca­reer high, also es­tab­lished last year. This sea­son, he will likely have to pitch into Oc­to­ber, too.

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