Joe Girardi expressed concern last night for rookie reliever Mark Melancon, whose plunking of Aaron Hill on Tuesday night helped precipitate the Yankees-Blue Jays brawl. And Melancon admitted he's worried about getting a reputation as a headhunter.
It's the second time Melancon has seen his motives questioned. The first was on Aug. 6, when he hit Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox in the shoulder. That led to angry words from the reigning AL MVP.
Melancon said both times he wasn't throwing at anyone. Girardi said he believes him.
"I've had discussions with him," Girardi said. "When you're a young player in this game, it's not always easy. Pitchers don't have Nintendo controls in their pockets . . . I checked to make sure Aaron Hill's OK, and I feel bad for my guy Mark Melancon, because I know he's not trying to hit him. He's trying to throw a sinker and the sinker got away. I am concerned about Mark because it's happened a couple of times and he feels extremely bad about it."
Melancon's defense after hitting Hill in the eighth inning of the Blue Jays' 10-4 win was that his command was off and the pitch got away. That's not hard to reconcile because the 24-year-old righthander has walked 10 and hit four in 161/3 innings.
"I don't think I've ever walked this many people in my life, let alone hit this many people," he said. "It's been tough for me to swallow, really . . . [The brawl] was the last thing I wanted. Obviously there was no intention there. I'm sitting there thinking, 'Jeez, I'm just trying to earn a spot.' The last thing I want is for somebody on either side to get hurt. It's unfortunate it had to escalate to what it did. But I think everybody's put it behind them."