Mark Melancon and the Arizona Diamondbacks certainly wish things had gone differently in the World Series this season, even if experts and fans believe simply making it to the Fall Classic was a momentous achievement.
Melancon does feel there is some merit to that thinking.
Melancon, a 14-year veteran who was not able to pitch this season due to a shoulder injury he has been rehabbing, wanted his first career World Series ring at 38 years old. He thoroughly enjoyed the run Arizona went on despite not being able to help on the field.
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Corbin Carroll, #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks, celebrates a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers with Mark Melancon, #34, at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 21, 2022 in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)
“Obviously, it’s never ideal to be injured and not be on the field,” he told Fox News Digital over the phone while highlighting his work in a Fanatics’ immersive business program this week. “But I was so happy to watch the guys and support the guys. I think you ask anybody that watches baseball, they didn’t expect us to be there. So it was fun to kinda be the Cinderella story, come up from behind and take down some big dogs that everybody thought was gonna be in the World Series.”
While Melancon is no longer with the Diamondbacks – Arizona did not pick up his mutual option for the 2024 campaign, which was expected considering his 2023 outcome – he believes this group has taken a giant leap forward, especially with the young stars developing right before our eyes.
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“I felt like it was going to be a really big step for this group, just getting into the playoffs and getting playoffs experience,” Melancon explained. “Teams that I’ve been on in the past that just get that year of experience under their belt, that next year always seems to be a little more confident and, ‘Hey, we’ve been there before. We have higher expectations because of that.’
“Just getting into the playoffs was big for this group, let alone getting all the way to the World Series. That only enhances the confidence and experience and know-how going forward. I don’t think we’ll be sneaking up on anybody next year, the Diamondbacks, but I think the work is still cut out for the team. The experience is there now, which is great.”
Arizona certainly have their young corps down pat with the likes of Corbin Caroll, Ketel Marte, Gabriel Moreno, Geraldo Perdomo and many other players who showcased their skills in the postseason. As the National League pennant winners, a target will be on their backs now.
Ketel Marte, #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks, celebrates with his teammates after hitting an RBI single against Craig Kimbrel, #31 of the Philadelphia Phillies, to win Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Chase Field on Oct. 19, 2023 in Phoenix. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)
That is the next challenge, being able to prove this was not a one-year anomaly. The Diamondbacks wish to compete in the NL West with teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres for years to come, hopefully with the chance at redemption in the World Series.
While the Diamondbacks gear up for that, Melancon will be looking for his next opportunity in a position he is very familiar with as he enters his 15th year in MLB: Free agency.
“I’ve been through free agency several times. It’s enjoyable,” he said. “You get to talk to different teams and see what their ideas are. Ultimately, my oldest daughter has been to 17 different schools, nine different teams in I don’t know how many different cities we’ve lived in. But I guess I can say I’m pretty used to it.”
Melancon made 62 appearances last season in his first year with Arizona, posting a 4.66 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched.
For his career, Melancon owns a 2.94 ERA over 732 outings on the mound for his nine different teams, which include the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and Padres, along with the D-Backs.
Mark Melancon, #34 of the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on Aug. 17, 2022 in San Francisco. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Melancon has collected four All-Star appearances over that span, three of which came with the Pirates in 2013, 2015 and 2016, as well as his latest in 2021 with the Padres.
As he hopes to land somewhere with World Series aspirations, Melancon will be keeping a close eye to see how the D-Backs handle the expectations that will be coming in 2024.
Scott Thompson is a sports writer for Fox News Digital.