The United States will receive some major bullpen help for the championship round of the World Baseball Classic, as veteran closer Mark Melancon will join his countrymen in Los Angeles ahead of Tuesday's semifinal showdown with Japan, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Not wanting to leave camp in his first spring training with the Giants, Melancon – who signed a four-year, $62-million deal with San Francisco this offseason – turned down Joe Torre’s initial offer to represent the United States, but later agreed to be added to the designated pitching pool after speaking with general manager Bobby Evans.
"What an opportunity," Melancon told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com. "I'm really thankful the Giants are on board and they understand the opportunity there to be able to represent your country. We're all on the same page and comfortable with it. It's all about communication and having these guys back me up has been great."
Melancon, who’s set to join a loaded American roster that also features two new teammates, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, has dominated the Cactus League this spring, holding opponents to a .174 batting average over seven scoreless outings thus far.
A three-time All-Star, Melancon enjoyed another superb season in 2016, crafting a 1.64 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 75 appearances between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals while converting 47 saves in 51 chances.
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