Mesa Takes Long Route To New York

NEW YORK—Throughout the Yankees organization, Melky Mesa is known as an extremely hard worker who has a smile for everyone. He also is equipped with four of the five tools.

Mesa, an outfielder, can throw, run, field and hit for power. What he hasn't consistently been able to do is avoid striking out.

Often organizations look at a player such as Mesa and lose patience with the lack of contact. Not the Yankees, who called up the 25-year-old on Sept. 10 when Mark Teixeira was lost with a recurring calf injury.

"We are going to hang with him," Yankees vice president Mark Newman said of the righthanded hitter. "He is what this stuff should be all about. He is a great kid, a very hard worker and he cares about other people. If he improves he could play in our (big league) outfield."

Standing in Fenway Park's visiting clubhouse, Mesa was asked what the first three days of being a big leaguer felt like.

"Amazing," he said with a smile almost as wide as the cramped room. "I am here for a reason and seeing this makes me want to work harder."

It was a late September callup, but Mesa was looking at it as a start, not just filling out a uniform.

"I want to stay here,'' Mesa said.

Everybody does. But two years in the Dominican Summer League to start his career were followed by two years in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. A year in short-season Staten Island followed. Low Class A Charleston was next, followed by high Class A Tampa in 2010.

Last year it was high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Between Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre this year, Mesa hit .264/.325/.480 with 23 homers. His batting average was significant in light of the fact he started the season with a career .232 average in eight minor league seasons.

"I never gave up,''Mesa said. "I just try to do the job and play the game the right way."


• Zoilo Almonte, a longshot to take over for Nick Swisher in right field if Swisher leaves via free agency, will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

• Catcher Austin Romine, who sustained a back injury early in spring training and missed most of the season, is slated to play in the Arizona Fall League.