After winning 87 games in 2016, but faltering in the postseason due to struggles with their bullpen, the San Francisco Giants appeared to have found a solution to the matter when they signed closer Mark Melancon to a four-year contract in December.
But things haven't gone too swimmingly for the Giants thus far, who are on pace to lose more than 100 games for the first time since 1985 and have been quiet in the clubhouse "to the point of being boring," FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.
One apparent point of contention the Giants are struggling with is the dynamic in the team's bullpen, one that used to be a close unit but is now trying to adjust to the routine Melancon and his $62-million contract brought to the team.
Melancon rubbed teammates the wrong way earlier this season when he took it upon himself to put an end to the bullpen's 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, according to Rosenthal.
The 32-year-old Melancon and other Giants veterans were also often late for the Giants' main stretching sessions, which forced manager Bruce Bochy to call a team meeting in May, Rosenthal writes.
"I dropped the ball. I've been doing this so long, you take for granted that they know what I want," Bochy told Rosenthal. "These guys were used to doing it how they've done it - 'I have my own routine. I'm not going to stretch.' But we do stretch as a team here. They all have to be out there."
And while Melancon and the other veterans' actions may be just one of a potential laundry list of reasons for the Giants' struggles, general manager Bobby Evans assured Rosenthal that Melancon is a team player who talked about building a strong culture in the bullpen during his negotiations with the Giants.
"To whatever degree it hasn't manifested itself or to the extent it's manifested itself in the perception of some negatively, I can assure you that was not Mark's intention," Evans explained. "Mark is a team guy."
During his first season in San Francisco, Melancon owns his highest ERA (4.58) since 2012, with 11 saves in 15 opportunities.