Royals pitcher Gil Meche likely will undergo surgery on his right shoulder and miss the rest of the season, manager Ned Yost said on Tuesday.
The exact nature and date of the surgery were not known.
Meche threw for Triple-A Omaha in an injury rehabilitation appearance on Monday and gave up seven runs in four innings.
“It didn’t go real well. He’s still experiencing some pain in his shoulder and so our next move is that he’ll probably go and have some surgery on it to figure out exactly what’s wrong and repair it,” Yost said.
“That’s probably going to be the next step. We’re still evaluating but it looks like that’s probably what we’re going to have to do.”
Meche has been on the disabled list with what was originally listed as right shoulder bursitis since last pitching for the Royals on May 25.
“When he gets in and is evaluating fully by the doctor, I imagine it’ll be some type of cleanup in there with the scope,” Yost said. “He still has irritation and it’s not getting better so we’re looking at probably scoping it and getting it cleaned up and having him ready for next year.”
Meche came out of a Cactus League game in Arizona on March 22 after three innings with shoulder tightness. He worked his way back and his first start of the season was delayed until April 9.
This would be the second straight year that Meche’s season has ended early. In 2009, back problems kept him from starting after Aug. 29. An iron man in his first two seasons with the Royals, he was limited to 23 starts and had a 6-10 record and 5.09 ERA.
“He’s a little down right now,” Yost said. “He worked really hard to do everything he could do to get back without having this happen but common sense says you can fight this and fight it and fight it but you get to the point where you have surgery later and that jeopardizes what we need him for next year. So go ahead and get it done as soon as we can and hopefully have him ready to go next year.”
Meche made just nine starts this season and was 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA.
“He came and pitched effectively at times during the season. This is almost kind of like a last resort thing. We exhausted every other option that we could do so that we wouldn’t have to come to this. But this is what it’s come to and we have to move forward with it,” Yost said.
“It’s always a blow when you lose a guy that has the capability to win games like Gil does but you fix it and you move on.”
Meche next season will be in the last year of his original free agent five-year, $55-million contract with the Royals.
On the upside, disabled starter Luke Hochevar (right elbow sprain) had a good throwing session on Monday. He’s been out since June 12 and, at the moment, there’s no target date for him to return to throwing off the mound.
“But it’ll be very soon,” Yost said.
Will center fielder Rick Ankiel, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, be ready when he’s eligible for reinstatement on May 18?
“I’m not sure if he’s ready to come off at the appropriate date but we’ll see,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Monday.
The quad was thought to be a minor thing back when Ankiel came out of a game on April 24. He was used as a pinch-hitter twice during the Tampa Bay series, May 1-2.
“If we thought it was going to be longer, he wouldn’t have pinch-hit,” Moore said. “We expected him to play two of the four in Tampa Bay and Trey (Hillman) decided to wait and give him a couple days without playing so he could play all three games in Chicago. And that Sunday he realized that he couldn’t go and we had to make a move.”
That’s when Ankiel went on the DL and Kila Ka’aihue was called up. This is reminiscent of the ankle injury that Ankiel suffered in Spring Training. Initially he was going to be out just a day or two but it turned into an 18-day absence.
Luke Hochevar might have been throwing up in the bullpen during his warm-ups on Sunday at Texas but he still insisted on pitching. “I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days or so, but it wasn’t this bad. But I can still throw strikes. I don’t care how bad it is. Regardless, I’ve got to keep us in that ballgame better than I did,” he said. He was pulled in the third inning after giving up four runs on four walks and three hits. . . . Nobody was watching on Sunday when the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton didn’t come close to tagging up at first base after a catch. He advanced to second while a run scored on a sac fly and the Royals failed to appeal. “You would hope your first baseman would catch that . . . and a lot of times somebody picks it up in the dugout,” Hillman said. “We were pretty well-located to see that play. I didn’t see it at the time that it happened.” Turns out Billy Butler was watching the play at the plate along with everyone else. . . . Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna pitched six innings in Northwest Arkansas’ 8-1 win over Tulsa on Sunday, boosting his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.09.
Surely Zack Greinke is going to catch some luck and maybe even some run support on Friday night against the Rangers. He goes into his seventh start still looking for his first victory. A year ago he was 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA after six starts.
His ERA this year is just 2.27 but the problem is the Royals are averaging just 2.6 runs when he starts a game. By contrast, Luke Hochevar, 3-1, is getting a healthy 6.3 runs a game.
Greinke couldn’t have pitched any better than he did last Sunday at Tampa Bay where he held the Rays to one run in an eight-inning complete game. Ah, but the Royals scored nada and he lost because he centered a slider that Evan Longoria hit out. The Zackmeister threw just 87 pitches and 65 were for strikes. He never reached a 3-ball count.
Alex Gordon hit his second home run for Triple-A Omaha in a 9-2 loss to Oklahoma City. . . . Left-hander Mike Montgomery won his Double-A debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two hits and one run in Northwest Arkansas’ 3-1 win over Springfield. He struck out eight and walked four. Third baseman Mike Moustakas hit in his eighth straight game (13-for-29, .448) with his sixth home run and is .420 overall. . . . Right fielder Jamar Walton eased his 1-for-26 start with a homer, double and two RBIs but Single-A Wilmington lost to Salem, 11-3. . . . Outfielder Rene Oriental is 10-for-25, .400, in a six-game hitting streak for Single-A Burlington.
Luke Hochevar had trouble with his control Sunday in the Royals’ 10-8 win over the White Sox.
“Scratch that one out,” Hochevar said. “I didn’t command the baseball very well, especially early on. I just didn’t pitch very good. Later on, I starting getting a better feel and started commanding the strike zone better. But even then I made a couple of mistakes out over the plate and they got some base hits.”
In five innings, he gave up nine hits including a homer and six runs (five earned) with three walks and a hit batter. That raised his ERA to 3.94.
“The good of it was that Hoch was able to get five ups-and-downs and stay under the 90-pitch threshold. That’s what we were shooting for today,” manager Trey Hillman said.
Hochevar has one more start before the opening of the season.
“Just iron some things out,” he said. “But overall physically I feel good. That’s the main thing right now. I know I’m going to have good command. That’ll come.”
Guess what team is leading the Major Leagues in hitting this spring? Yep, the Royals at .319. But Hillman isn’t that excited yet, noting the club also hit well (.310) last year in the Cactus League. There is one positive change, however. “We’ve got a lot of hard line-drive base hits and not as much loft as last year so hopefully it’s affecting it,” he said. The “it” refers to the nets that hitting coach Kevin Seitzer hung from the top of the batting cages, encouraging the hitters to avoid lofting the ball into the light Arizona air and go for the hard liners instead. Must be something to it. The Royals have 19 homers in their 25 games so far compared to a ******** 56 blasts in 36 games in 2009. Obviously that power didn’t carry over when the team left the desert. . . . Jose Guillen’s 4-for-4 against the White Sox boosted his average to .342 and Hillman sees good bat speed from the veteran. “When I haven’t seen the bat speed, there’s something wrong physically,” Hillman said. “That ankle really bothered him last year.” But surgery last September seems to have solved the ankle problem. . . . Mitch Maier had two more hits and is hitting .440. He also appeared to make a diving catch in center field although it was ruled a trap. “Tremendous spring. And he’s playing center field better than I’ve ever seen him play it,” Hillman said. Judging from his spring play, Maier gives the Royals a nice option in case Rick Ankiel’s ankle keeps him off the field when the season starts. Ankiel, who last played in a Cactus game on March 11, was supposed to play four or five innings in a Minor League game on Sunday.
David DeJesus put it succinctly when he talked about Rick Ankiel’s performance in Tuesday’s intrasquad game: “Everything he hits is a home run.”
That was true. He belted two solo homers – one off Luke Hochevar, one off Minor Leaguer Danny Duffy – as his team rolled, 6-0. He teed off on Hochevar’s changeup and Duffy’s breaking ball. In his other at-bat, Ankiel didn’t hit the ball – lefty Adam Bostick struck him out. Alberto Callaspo, batting right-handed, also homered off Duffy.
DeJesus had three at-bats and belted a triple, a double and a single.
“I just wanted to stay relaxed at the plate,” DeJesus said. “It’s way different doing (batting practice) with the pitchers behind the screen. When you get out there with no screens, you feel like you lock in a little better and it’s definitely always good when you get your first day with three hits.”
He could have had two triples but stopped at second base because he knew the inning was going to be halted at that point anyway. (Three innings were waved off because the pitchers had reached their pitch limit.)
Ankiel thought he got a little help on his second home run by the light Arizona air. “Definitely an Arizona home run,” he said.
Manager Trey Hillman liked what he saw from his offense – there were 13 hits in the five innings – despite skipping live batting practice early on in camp.
“I don’t think we were too far behind considering we didn’t take batting practice the first two days,” Hillman said. “If we hadn’t done well offensively today, by at least one side, I’m sure these guys would’ve grumbled that we missed those two days. But it looked like the mistakes from the pitchers got hit. They got some balls out over the plate.”
But he saw some good things from his pitchers as well.
“Hoch left a changeup up but other than that, he pitched very well, was very efficient. I thought (Aaron) Crow did a real good job. Even though he fell behind, he did a real good job of getting back in the count,” Hillman said.
And he was impressed by Rule 5 draft choice Edgar Osuna, a left-hander.
“You can see the pitchability,” Hillman said. “This is the second time in a row I’ve seen a good breaking ball – it’s got depth and sweep to it. He’s deceptive, especially with the changeup. He’s not afraid to throw to both sides of the plate. He threw Billy Butler a nice cutter inside and followed it up with a changeup and it resulted in two foul balls. But the only reason is because it was Billy Butler. He could’ve struck a lot of right-handed hitters out with that pitch coming in glove-side instead of using the changeup away.”
Most of all, though, Hillman liked his defense. The only error was a wide throw by Hochevar.
“Very clean. We had one error. I was very pleased with the defensive play,” Hillman said.
For Wednesday’s second intrasquad game, Hillman is switching the lineups around. Ankiel will be back but as a designated hitter; ditto for Jose Guillen. Mike Moustakas will get a shot at third base and several other non-roster players are in the two lineups as well. The pitchers will include Brian Bannister and Dusty Hughes.
Before Tuesday’s intrasquad game, Mike Aviles threw from shortstop for the first time in camp. He’s recuperating from Tommy John surgery in his right elbow so he was cautious but made about 15 of the long throws without a problem. He played second base in the game.
Outfielder Scott Podsednik was nicked in the hand by a pitch that glanced off the knob of his bat but he was OK.
Now that the Royals have traded for Yuniesky Betancourt to fill their shortstop need and Ryan Freel to help in the outfield and infield, nothing seems bubbling.
General manager Dayton Moore was asked if more deals might be in the works before the deadline and he was noncommittal.
“At this time of year, it’s active, it’s unpredictable and things can pop up nightly as rosters change due to other trades and injuries and so forth. But right now we’re just monitoring our team and needs of others,” Moore said.
The Royals really need to do is add some offensive production to a club that has been running last in the American League in that vital category called runs scored.
What the Royals are not likely to do is part with the likes of pitchers Zack Greinke and Luke Hochevar, first baseman Billy Butler, third baseman Alex Gordon or closer Joakim Soria – the young core of their club.
“We need to hang on to our good young players as most clubs try to do so any deal we make would be centered around holding on to our good young players,” Moore said.
Vet pitcher Gil Meche isn’t likely to be on the market either although his current back woes would likely dull any interest anyhow. Brian Bannister has emerged as an effective pitcher and, at 28, he’s not really in the “super youth” category. Still, the most common names being floated, as usual, are outfielder David DeJesus and infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen.
“As you know, I won’t talk about the specifics but we’ll always be open to good baseball deals that help our team today and long-term,” Moore said.
The Royals designated for assignment shortstop Tony Pena Jr. and optioned center fielder Mitch Maier to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday.
The moves cleared roster space for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and third baseman Alex Gordon. Both are coming off the disabled list and will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pitcher Sidney Ponson reported from his injury rehabilitation assignment but remained on the disabled list.
The Royals listed their starting rotation for the Tampa Bay series. Brian Bannister will start the Friday night opener, followed by All-Star Zack Greinke on Saturday night and Luke Hochevar on Sunday.
The club will further evaluate the status of Gil Meche, who left his last start because of a back spasm.
In addition, shortstop Luis Hernandez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He had been designated for assignment by the Royals
Right-hander Luke Hochevar, who took the loss for the Royals on Saturday against the Cardinals, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha as the club made a total of six roster moves following the game.
Shortstop Mike Aviles and reliever Robinson Tejeda were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Royals added pitchers John Bale and Roman Colon and infielder Tug Hulett, all recalled from Omaha. Bale had been on an injury rehabilitation assignment.
Aviles has a strained right forearm and Tejeda has tendinitis of the right rotator cuff.
The Royals placed closer Joakim Soria on the 15-day disabled list after Sunday’s game at Anaheim because of lingering soreness in his right shoulder.
Pitcher Luke Hochevar was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take Soria’s place on the roster and Sidney Ponson’s place in the starting rotation. Hochevar will start on Tuesday night at Oakland, moving Ponson into the bullpen.
Hochevar has a 5-0 record in starts for Omaha with a 0.90 ERA.
There was no immediate estimate on how long Soria might be sidelined. He last pitched on Thursday against Seattle in a rocky but successful 29-pitch outing. His DL stay is retroactive to Friday.
Soria has appeared in just eight of the Royals’ 30 games. He had seven saves in seven chances, a 1-0 record, a 2.08 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
Starting pitcher Brian Bannister was recalled from Triple-A Omaha by the Royals on Tuesday and reliever Doug Waechter was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Bannister will start Wednesday night’s game at Cleveland instead of left-hander Hector Ramirez. Bannister, after a rough first start for Omaha, has logged nine straight shutout innings while Ramirez has struggled for the Royals.
This move puts Ramirez back in the bullpen, essentially covering Waechter’s spot in middle relief.
Waechter has a lateral strain in his right elbow.
“He’s been having trouble getting loose and felt some clicking in there and was examined by Dr. (Steve) Joyce on Monday,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
Although Waechter told the Royals he felt he could pitch through it, the club decided to put him on the disabled list. Waechter had not given up a run this season until Friday night at Texas when the Rangers jolted him for two solo home runs in one inning of the Royals’ 12-3 victory.
Bannister was optioned to Omaha late in Spring Training along with fellow right-hander Luke Hochevar after the Royals decided to use Sidney Ponson and Ramirez in the last two rotation spots.
On Sunday, Bannister was used to pitch just two innings, both scoreless, in Omaha’s 3-0 victory over Albuquerque. That brief outing was in anticipation of the move with Waechter and Ramirez.
That gave Bannister nine shutout innings in his last two starts after a rocky first outing in which he gave up five runs in four innings. Overall, his ERA is 3.46 with a 0-1 record.
Hochevar also has been pitching well with a 3-0 record and 1.89 ERA in three starts for Omaha.
Ramirez, signed last winter to a $1.8 million contract, was supposed to give the Royals a left-handed starter in an otherwise all right-handed rotation. But he had a lackluster Spring Training and was penciled in for just two starts this month. He made one on April 11 against Cleveland and went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs in a 6-1 loss.
He’s also made two relief appearances and his overall ERA is 11.12 to go with his 0-1 mark. In 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up 12 hits including two homers and seven runs.
Waechter becomes the third player on the Royals’ disabled list. Third baseman Alex Gordon underwent right hip surgery on Friday and is expected to be out until at least late June. Right fielder Jose Guillen has a tear in his right hip flexor and could be back as early as Saturday.
Waechter’s stay on the DL is retroactive to April 18.