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For Melancon, trade was a pleasant surprise

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 15, 2011 09:35 PM

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Mark Melancon was on a beach in Cancun on Wednesday having lunch with his uncle when he looked up and saw his wife, Mary Catherine, running his way.

“There was no reason in the world she would be running that fast and she had this expression on her face that was full of emotion,” Melancon said tonight via phone from Mexico. “I was worried for a second that something was wrong. Then she started screaming, ‘You just got traded! It’s the Red Sox!’ ”

Melancon was shocked. There was no indication from the Astros that a trade was possible. But he had been dealt for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.

“We bought a house in Houston. I figured I was just the kind of player they wanted, somebody young with an affordable salary,” he said. “I would have said there was no chance. But I was thrilled to get the news.”

Melancon, 26, grew up in Denver and rooted for the Red Sox until the Rockies joined the National League in 1993. The Sox nearly drafted him out of the University of Arizona in 2006 but didn’t meet his price. The Yankees did.

“I loved playing for the Yankees and getting a chance to pitch in the AL East. I’m glad to be going back to that division,” Melancon said. “Competition like that is good for you. I want to be on a contender with that kind of history and a front office that is solely there to win.

“It was amazing to me how different it was with the Astros. Houston was wonderful for my career and I enjoyed it. But now I’m in the kind of place I really want to be. Boston is the kind of team where you can create a lot of great memories.”

Melancon was traded to the Astros in 2010. He had 20 saves for Houston last season and posted a 2.78 earned run average over 74.1 innings with 66 strikeouts and only 20 unintentional walks.

Melancon was a closer in college and in the minors while coming up with the Yankees. He wants the job in Boston.

“That’s me,” he said. “I want the ball in a close game in a pressure situation. I’ve always thrived on that and being in that position. I showed I can do the job in Houston and that experience helped me tremendously. I’m ready if that’s what the Red Sox want me to do. I hope it is.”

Melancon played against Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury in college. When he was with the Yankees in 2009, Melancon hit Pedroia in the shoulder with a pitch after throwing a fastball over his head.

It created a minor storm at the time. But Melancon is eager to have Pedroia on his side now.

“I can’t wait to play with Dustin,” he said. “You hate him when you’re facing him but I know I’ll love playing with him. He’s cocky and he has that enthusiasm. It’ll be great.

“When I came up with the Yankees the clubhouse was full of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. It’ll be the same thing in Boston. I think if you asked most kids to pick team, they would pick either the Red Sox or the Yankees. I’m lucky that I’ll get to play for both. I can’t wait to get started.”

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