NEW YORK — Mark Melancon was never put on the DL in his first eight seasons in the big leagues. He was disappointed when it finally happened Tuesday, and not just because he’s less than two months into a four-year deal that was the marquee signing of the Giants’ offseason.
Melancon had hoped to pitch through inflammation in his right pronator, a muscle on the inside of the forearm. The Giants opted to be careful, and minutes before Tuesday’s game they shelved their new closer with a mild strain.
Melancon said he expects to be back when eligible May 16, or shortly thereafter.
“It’s a mild strain and we can back-date it three days, so that helps,” he said. “I expect to be back as soon as possible.”
Melancon said the irritation has been there since the spring, but he was quick to point out that his participation in the World Baseball Classic’s final round had nothing to do with it.
“I think I threw five pitches in the WBC and then got yanked,” he said, smiling.
The Giants ordered an MRI when they were in Cincinnati, but Melancon hoped to contribute against the Mets. When he felt more irritation while warming up Monday, the team made the call.
“He’s felt it on and off the last couple of weeks,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We made this call to put him on the DL so it’s not nagging him all year.”
The Giants did not make a roster move, and Bochy said it wasn’t a lock that Brandon Crawford will take the spot when he returns Wednesday. If the Giants opt to add another arm for the series finale, Reyes Moronta might be a surprise choice. The right-hander is the only pitcher at Double-A Richmond who is on the 40-man roster.
Bochy said it’ll be closer-by-committee while Melancon is out, with Derek Law being the head guy. You can also probably expect some Steven Okert if lefties are coming up in the ninth.
--- Of course, needing a closer means you have the lead. The Giants lost 6-1 on Tuesday, and they were never really all that competitive. Jeff Samardzija fell behind early and then ended up with one of just two hits from the Giants. The other was a solo homer by Buster Posey.
“I can’t explain why we’re not hitting,” Bochy said. “These things are hard to explain. You can’t force it. You keep thinking we’re going to come out of it, but it’s been a while.”
--- A word about Eduardo Nuñez: It’s probably easy to place blame after the way that first inning went, but the blame should really be placed on the left field plan, not the player. Nuñez is an infielder, and the reports coming into the season indicated that he was shaky in the outfield. He’s willing to play out of position to try and help the team, but it’s not working. Somehow, the Giants need to find a way to put real outfielders in the outfield. They’re not scoring enough runs to give a hit or two away every night.
--- Crawford had a good night, collecting three hits and playing seven innings at Double-A. He will be at Citi Field on Tuesday but Bochy made it sound like Crawford might not be activated right away. He’s traveling tomorrow and then taking a long flight home with the team. Starting the final game of the trip is probably not in the cards.