SCOTTSDALE - Mark Melancon has 22 days to get fully ready to potentially pitch the ninth inning of the season opener. Will that be enough time?
"There hasn't been one spring where I've felt I had enough time," Melancon said Wednesday, smiling.
This spring is different, though. Melancon underwent surgery last Sept. 12 to relieve compression in his right forearm, and while the results on the field Wednesday were encouraging, he admitted afterward that there is still some discomfort in his throwing arm.
"It's part of the process," Melancon said. "It's part of having surgery. We're still progressing with my arm."
Melancon said he was confident that he'll be ready by opening day, and the Giants have expressed no concern publicly that their closer won't be good to go. The clock is ticking, though, and Melancon has just one spring inning under his belt after pitching a 1-2-3 frame against the Padres.
Melancon entered for the top of the fifth and faced the top of San Diego's lineup. He got ahead of Manny Margot 0-2 before the pesky leadoff hitter bounced out to short. Raffy Lopez also went down 0-2 and grounded out harmlessly to first. Wil Myers hit a liner to left, but Hunter Pence tracked it down five feet in front of the track.
"It was fun. It was nice to be out there," Melancon said. "It's what you spend all the offseason waiting to do and you finally get to do it. I'm always happy with a 1-2-3 inning."
Bruce Bochy said he liked what he saw, and he noted that Melancon has been throwing to hitters during live BP sessions, so it's not like he's fully two weeks behind the rest of the pitchers. Bochy said that if Melancon needs to be further slow-played early in the year, he's comfortable using Sam Dyson or Tony Watson in the ninth on occasion.
Regardless of how Melancon fares the next three weeks, it has mostly been a positive spring for a bullpen that needs a bounceback. Josh Osich pitched before Melancon and had his fourth scoreless outing of the spring, and Watson followed with a good inning. Hunter Strickland, Dyson and Cory Gearrin have combined for seven scoreless innings.