Melvin on Fuentes: “He’s OK. He wants to pitch.”
Much has been made of Brian Fuentes’ struggles this season. Now the focus has turned the struggles Bob Melvin has faced when deciding when to use him. Fuentes hasn’t been used at all since Saturday, and even that appearance followed a stretch of nine consecutive games without one — though the lefty was slowed by a slow ankle for a few days of that.
Melvin has said he’d like to find a non-pressure inning for Fuentes, as I wrote yesterday. But that wasn’t an option in Thursday’s game in Texas, when the skipper used four other relievers (Jim Miller, Jordan Norberto, Evan Scribner, Sean Doolittle) over Fuentes, whose 6.85 ERA is highest among American League relievers.
Had Doolittle walked Adrian Beltre with two outs in the eighth inning to load the bases in a one-run game, Melvin said he would have turned to Fuentes, given Doolittle was already past the 30-pitch mark. But Doolittle struck out the Rangers’ third baseman following a nine-pitch at-bat, and Fuentes was, again, never seen in the game.
“I’m trying to get him in there,” Melvin said. “I’ll take a lot of the blame on that. He was out for five days and I just haven’t been able to find the right spot for him.
“I try to stay communicative. It’s a little bit uncomfortable, because he wants to get in there and he’s used to pitching. But he knew after the stretch with the ankle that I was going to try to find an inning for him that was more of a soft landing, so to speak. We played eight games in a row here where it’s gone down to the last pitch, so it’s been difficult to find that.”
When asked how Fuentes has handled the ordeal, Melvin replied, “He’s OK. He wants to pitch. No doubt about that.”
At this point, it appears the club would like to move Fuentes before the Trade Deadline, but it’s safe to say teams are going to be more interested in Grant Balfour’s services, though they come at a higher price.