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Why Mark Melancon won’t immediately return to closer role when he rejoins Giants

SAN FRANCISCO–Mark Melancon is nearing a return to the Giants roster, but he won’t be returning to the closer role right away.
Melancon is set to begin a rehab assignment on Monday that could last about two weeks and span five or six relief appearances. The right-hander is recovering from a right elbow flexor strain that has sidelined him since Opening Day, but his injury troubles date back to the beginning of last season.
“We’re getting some good news despite this little three game skid we’re in,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s going to be good to have Mark, it’s been a long road for him and it’s been good to have him back. We’re probably looking around two weeks for his rehab.”
Melancon missed three separate chunks of last season with a pronator injury in his pitching arm that required surgery in September. The Giants were hopeful Melancon would be ready for the start of the season, but he felt a similar pain in his arm that he felt last year and was placed on the disabled list.
The three-time All-Star received a stem cell injection to facilitate the healing process for his injury on April 12, and he’s thrown a handful of bullpens over the last few weeks as he gears up for his rehab assignment.
Though the Giants signed Melancon to a four-year, $62 million contract to serve as their closer prior to the 2017 season, Melancon won’t return to the role when he is available to rejoin the club.
Instead, Bochy said the Giants will ease Melancon into action which will allow Hunter Strickland to maintain his job as the closer for the foreseeable future.
“A little earlier in the game, see where he’s at, how he feels and how he’s throwing,” Bochy said. “Kind of let him get settled in when he comes back and we’ll go that way. I don’t want to put added pressure on him as soon as he gets back.”

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