BRADENTON - The MLB all-star break begins Monday in major league baseball, but the timing is very bad break for a former Bradenton Marauders ace pitcher.
Jeff Locke was the opening day starter for the Bradenton Marauders when they began their history in 2010. This year he won 8 straight games for the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates and was selected to the NL All-Star Team. "That's what you do to benefit the team all the time. I will tell you the only thing you really can't control is losing. You can go out there and lose any game you want, but it’s really tough to win games."
But soon after his 8-game streak was snapped, Locke came down with back spasms out of nowhere. He said he had never, ever had a back issue in his life. So he will miss the All-Star game and teammate Mark Melancon will replace him.
"Oh, very special moment. I don't even know what to say. It’s really cool, surreal. I found out, (All-Star manager Bruce) Bochy called (Pirates manager) Clint (Hurdle) and told him I was going to be heading to New York, so it’s pretty neat," says Melancon.
His selection may be unbelievable to some, who remember him losing the Red Sox closer job just a few games into last season when the pressure of closing seemed to get to him. Now he is an All-Star with a 0.81 ERA. “Last year, I had a few outings that really roughed me up, and aside from those it wasn't terrible. But I learned a lot. The All-Star game is wonderful, but Pirates baseball is the key."