SCOTTSDALE — Members of the front office flocked to the organization’s minor league facility on Wednesday, and not just because the first day of games allowed a long look at prospects like Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez. Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon were there for the day, and you could argue that they’re the two pitchers on staff who are most in need of turning the page from 2017.
Cueto threw 70 pitches before handing the ball off to Melancon and giving him a fist pound. The closer threw 20 against minor leaguers. You can’t take anything away from stat lines when an All-Star is facing kids who have just started shaving, but both pitchers appeared pleased with the way they threw. While Melancon continues to push past some lingering discomfort, Cueto said he has no worries about his forearm or the blisters that hounded him last season.
“Thank God, I don’t have any problems right now,” he said.
Cueto will make one more start down here before taking the ball in Sacramento when the Giants play an exhibition at their affiliate upon returning home. After that, it’s the Dodgers. He said he has plenty of time to get his pitch count up, despite missing the start of camp because of the flu.
Cueto topped out at 88 mph on Wednesday, but that’s normal for him this time of year. At times he appeared to be playing a light game of catch with Aramis Garcia, focusing on tightening up his changeup and breaking ball.
“It felt really good out there,” he said.
Melancon was pitching for the third time this spring. He sat 90-91 mph.
--- Over on Instagram (pavlovicNBCS) there are a lot of photos and videos from minor league camp, including videos of Ramos and Gonzalez, and a cameo by a certain former Giant who once walked off the Cardinals.