FORT MYERS, Fla. - Mark Melancon was once a hot prospect with the Yankees, moving from Single A to Triple A in 2008, his first full season of professional baseball.
He made his major league debut in 2009, throwing two shutout innings against the Red Sox at Fenway Park April 26. Later that season, Melancon further endeared himself to Yankees fans when he drilled Dustin Pedroia in the left shoulder with a fastball after throwing a pitch over his head.
Melancon was traded to Houston less than a year later and is now with the Red Sox after being obtained in December for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.
The Yankees? They’re the bad guys now.
“I’ve been on the other side for so long, it’s bickering back and forth and you hear the differences but you always have respect for your competition,’’ Melancon said. “Now I’m on the other side of the fence, which is the better side. So, I’m looking forward to it.’’
Melancon will not be rattled easily. He entertained reporters yesterday with tales of shark diving, biking on a treacherous road in South America, and bungee jumping at the age of 7. He and his wife, Mary Catherine, have a list of adventures they plan to undertake.
The Red Sox hope Melancon will become a reliable setup man for Andrew Bailey after working as the Astros closer last season.
“Anywhere in the back end of the bullpen, you have to treat it like it’s a save situation,’’ said Melancon. “I’ll use that experience last year to do that here.’’
Wait almost over?
A Red Sox source said commissioner Bud Selig will announce his decision on the compensation from the Cubs for Theo Epstein “very soon.’’ Epstein fled the Sox with one year left on his contract to become Chicago’s vice president of baseball operations. The Cubs promised significant compensation at the time. When negotiations stalled, Selig stepped in.
Pair of signings
The Red Sox signed righthander Ross Ohlendorf and first baseman Mauro Gomez to minor league contracts that included invitations to spring training. Ohlendorf, 29, made only nine starts for the Pirates last season because of a shoulder injury. He was 11-10 with a 3.92 earned run average in 2009, but is 2-14 with a 5.14 ERA since. Ohlendorf, who graduated from Princeton, started his career with the Yankees. Gomez, 27, hit .304 with 34 doubles, 24 home runs, and 90 RBIs for Triple A Gwinnett last season. He has no major league experience.
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis and infielder Mike Aviles arrived in camp well ahead of schedule . . . Catching instructor and bullpen coach Gary Tuck is dealing with some physical issues and has been away from the team. He is expected back soon . . . The nonroster invitees to camp include several of the organization’s better prospects: outfielder Alex Hassan, righthander Alex Wilson, catcher Dan Butler, and outfielder Juan Carlos Linares . . . Bailey will wear No 40 . . . Bobby Jenks, who appeared in only 19 games last season because of assorted injuries, arrived in camp having lost significant weight. He is recovering from back surgery and may not be able to pitch for several weeks . . . John Lackey, out for the season after having elbow surgery, also reported.