Melancon adjusts quietly, as usual
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.