Cherington: Melancon 'capable of closing'

December, 15, 2011
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington wouldn’t commit to the notion that newly acquired reliever Mark Melancon would be the club’s next closer, but the GM said the right-hander is capable of filling that role.

Cherington said he would leave the ultimately decision to manager Bobby Valentine during spring training.

“We believe he’s definitely capable of closing and capable of pitching in the ninth inning for us,” Cherington said Thursday morning. “But those are questions for Bobby, with help from his pitching coach, during spring training to answer and figure out the right roles for everyone.”

Until then, the GM plans to add more depth to the bullpen and could still be in the market for a closer.

“We don’t think it’s completely necessary [to name a closer before spring training],” Cherington said. “We have in the past, and there have been other years when we haven’t. I think we would like to have a defined closer on Opening Day and we believe Melancon is fully capable of doing that. We’re going to keep working.”

The Red Sox are continuing their pursuit of other relievers, including Andrew Bailey, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Red Sox have some internal options if needed, including Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Bobby Jenks (if healthy). And they’ve been in touch with Ryan Madson, the best remaining closer on the free-agent market.

“We felt like we even had some options even before this trade,” Cherington said. “There are guys who could do it, guys who have done it in the past and guys who we think are ready to do it. Melancon certainly adds an important piece, a guy who has [closed] recently, and more recently than anyone else on our roster, so we feel pretty good about the way the back of the bullpen is shaping up. There’s certainly time before now and spring training and we’re going to continue to look for ways to make the team better.”

Cherington said he has been scouting Melancon since his days at the University of Arizona and the GM believes the former Yankee and Astro will fit in nicely into Boston’s bullpen.

“We really like his stuff, and have liked his stuff back to his college days at Arizona,” Cherington said. “We feel like the second half of last season he had a better feel for his cutter. He’s always had a good curveball and he’s a real aggressive pitcher, tough and confident. We think he has the intangibles to compete in the American League East and he’s an upgrade to our bullpen.”

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?