Pirates monitoring Melancon's decreased velocity

Closer allowed three runs in ninth inning of Monday's home opener vs. Tigers

Pirates monitoring Melancon's decreased velocity

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates closer Mark Melancon gave up three runs on four hits in the ninth inning of Monday's home opener at PNC Park, nearly letting the Tigers erase the Bucs' four-run lead.

But it wasn't his pitching line that came up Tuesday afternoon. It was his radar gun readings.

According to Pitch f/x data on Fangraphs.com, Melancon's average cutter velocity this season has been 88.7 mph. He didn't hit 91 mph in any of his first three appearances this year.

Granted, it's still early. Some pitchers see their velocity increase as the season progresses. But it's a noticeable drop for Melancon from his 91.8 mph average velocity last season.

On Monday, Melancon's cutter clocked in from 88-90 mph.

"We're going to watch, and we're going to communicate. Concern's not a word that I'm going to use. Disappointed is not a word that I'm going to use," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I don't think we need to delve deep into emotions. I think you just need to evaluate and have conversations. I think that's one of the best ways to get things done within the clubhouse is when you have a question, you just ask it.

"I think it's always important to ask the player what are they feeling, what are they seeing, what are they experiencing."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Charlie Morton, working in extended spring training as he looks to repair his delivery, is "making some progress," Hurdle said.

The Pirates haven't yet decided on what will come next for Morton, who is still focusing on staying balanced in his delivery and repeating his throwing motion on a consistent basis.

• Catcher Chris Stewart, on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain, has played two games for Double-A Altoona and two for Triple-A Indianapolis as part of his Minor League rehab assignment.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.