The D-Backs announced on Wednesday that veteran reliever Mark Melancon would miss the start of the season after experiencing shoulder discomfort. Manager Torey Lovullo provided a disheartening update on Thursday afternoon. The four-time All-Star will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection to address a subscapularis strain, an injury the skipper said will be measured in “months, not weeks” (link via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic).
Signed to a two-year, $14MM free agent contract over the 2021-22 offseason, Melancon had a rough first season in the desert. The righty posted a 4.66 ERA through 56 innings. It was his worst run prevention mark in a decade, while his 14.2% strikeout rate was his lowest since his abbreviated rookie season in 2009. His 44.1% grounder percentage was the worst of his career. The D-Backs pulled Melancon from the closing role towards the tail end of the season.
His hope for a bounceback showing has been set back out of the gate. There’s some hope the PRP injection can get him back on track eventually but it now seems that’s a midseason goal. Given the stated timeline, the 14-year MLB veteran figures to wind up on the 60-day injured list whenever the club needs a 40-man roster spot.
Melancon isn’t the only Arizona reliever dealing with a concerning shoulder issue. Right-hander Corbin Martin left last night’s Spring Training contest with an injury. Lovullo told reporters the 27-year-old was going for imaging on Thursday (relayed by Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). The club won’t know a timetable for Martin’s return until there’s more clarity on the diagnosis, yet it’s an obviously unfortunate situation for a pitcher still looking to establish himself at the MLB level.
A former second-round pick of the Astros, Martin reached the majors with Houston two years after being drafted. He made five starts and had been optioned back to Triple-A when he required Tommy John surgery in July 2019. Within a few weeks, Houston dealt him as one of four players in the deadline blockbuster to acquire Zack Greinke. A top 100 caliber prospect at the time, Martin was arguably the headliner of a package that included former first-rounders J.B. Bukauskas and Seth Beer, as well as infielder Josh Rojas (who has been the most successful of the bunch to this point).
Martin hasn’t established himself in the wake of that surgery, bouncing on and off the active roster for the past couple seasons. He allowed a 4.84 ERA in 22 1/3 MLB innings last season and was hit hard for a 6.08 ERA over 17 Triple-A starts. This spring, the D-Backs moved him to relief in an effort to get him on track. He’d gotten off to a nice start this spring, striking out nine with only a pair of walks in 5 2/3 frames before the injury.