Bruce Chen has been added to the Royals’ roster after passing his physical examination, taking the spot vacated by Gil Meche when he retired.
It really seemed like Meche was going to give the bullpen a try when we talked in the last week of the season. He felt like he had to do something to earn the $12 million still left on his contract. A lot of players would’ve had the shoulder surgery, sat out the season, collected the money and said, “Thanks and see ya later.”
Meche wasn’t that kind of guy. And, after thinking about it this winter, he couldn’t even justify collecting such a huge pile of dough by pitching out of the bullpen. So he packed it in.
“I know bullpen guys don’t make that kind of money unless they’re a closer,” he said, “and I just felt it was the right thing to do. I’m not trying to look good in any way. I just know I wouldn’t be able to handle it if I got hurt and wouldn’t be able to play.”
After making about $43 million the last four years, Meche is set financially anyway.
Anyway, with Chen on the roster, that’s back to the 40-man limit and when Jeff Francis is officially added, another player will have to be dropped.
— Dick Kaegel
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.
Right-hander Gil Meche’s long trail of travail took another bad turn on Saturday when the Royals placed him on the 15-day disabled list because of bursitis in his pitching shoulder.
His scheduled Sunday start against the Red Sox will be taken by left-hander Bruce Chen. Right-hander Victor Marte was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take Meche’s spot on the roster.
Meche’s ailment is believed to be related to the shoulder problems he had during Spring Training. His first start of the season was delayed several days as he continued to recover. He’s made nine starts but was without a victory at 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA.
In his last outing on Tuesday night against Texas, Meche pitched six innings and gave up six runs, all resulting from four homers.
Throughout the season, Meche has contended that his physical condition was good and that his shoulder was OK. He pitched one complete game on May 8, an eight-inning loss to Texas in which he threw 128 pitches, fourth-most in his career.
Chen has pitched 10 games out of the bullpen this season with a 1-0 record and 2.89 ERA. The veteran has 121 big league starts with a 28-40 record and 4.70 ERA in that role.
Marte was with the Royals briefly earlier this season and appeared in one game. For Omaha, he has a 3-1 record, two saves and a 3.46 ERA in 14 relief appearances.
Royals starter Gil Meche came out of Monday’s game with a stiff right shoulder but he doesn’t believe it’s a serious matter.
Meche pitched the first three innings of a 9-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox and gave up three runs on four hits before ending his outing.
“There’s no pain going on so I’m not worried about it,” Meche said.
But there was enough stiffness in his throwing shoulder that he was concerned that another inning or two might cause more problems.
“I think I’m in a position now to where I didn’t want to keep pushing it with the season coming up,” Meche said.
“I don’t have a feel for my breaking ball too much. I keep saying that every time I pitch and I keep thinking it’s going to turn the corner but I just kind of have some shoulder stiffness. It’s nothing serious.”
Meche is scheduled to have two more Cactus League starts before pitching the season’s second game on April 7 at Kansas City.
He had experienced some stiffness earlier and underwent some tests.
“They checked me out, the shoulder’s strong but the tightness is there. I don’t feel real strong when I’m pitching,” he said.
“So I just kept working through it and after the third inning, it was like well, I’ve had enough. I didn’t want to keep going, I felt like I was getting stiffer in a way, I’m not throwing any good pitches. Just take it easy on this one and then see what happens my next one.”
Last season Meche did not pitch after Aug. 29 because of fatigue in his right shoulder. That, however, was believed to have been accentuated by back problems which he’s not experienced this year.
“Last year I did push through things and I know where that got me so I want to make sure I feel 100 percent when the season starts so it’s a matter of me being smart right now,” he said.
So far this spring Meche has pitched four games and has a 2-2 record with a 6.55 ERA. He’s pitched 11 innings.
On Monday, he left the game after throwing 56 pitches (31 strikes).
— Dick Kaegel
Reliever Juan Cruz has yet to see any Cactus League action and probably won’t for a while. Coming off a right shoulder strain that cost him nearly two months late last season, Cruz is taking it slow.
“Is he limited? No. Is he a little bit behind the pitching schedule of some of the other guys? Yes,” manager Trey Hillman said.
Cruz was the last pitcher to report to camp and he’s trying to build up his shoulder. He was 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA last year but got into just 46 games. He’s in the second year of a two-year, $6-million deal.
The Royals had a lot of fun with Kansas City Wizards soccer player Korede “K” Aiyegbusi who served as the ballboy for Friday’s game against the Rangers. The 5-5 defender is from London and apparently wasn’t up to speed on baseball or the game’s humor. So when he was sent to find the “key” to the batter’s box or to fetch a box of “curveballs” or “sliders” he was eager and willing to go. “He was outstanding,” Hillman said. “He got the batter’s box unlocked just in time for the game. He was on his way to the bullpen for a box of sliders but an unnamed staff guy called him back, not knowing exactly what was going on. So that unnamed staff guy is seriously in my doghouse.” The umpires played along. “One guy took the bull by the horns. He’s the one who sent him to the bullpen,” Hillman said. . . . Catcher Manny Pina, drilled by the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz in Friday’s game, had just a bruised right bicep and was back on the field Saturday. There was no bad history between the two players, Pina said. In fact, they were roommates when both were with the Rangers’ Double-A club at Frisco. Feliz visited Pina on Friday night to make sure he was OK. The fastball just got away from him. . . . Jose Guillen played right field in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Rangers, pounded a long double to right-center field and moved around the bases in good form. . . . “I’m getting there, I’m feeling healthy so it’s matter of getting the timing back,” Guillen said. “I didn’t play a lot last year. I had two surgeries and it’s a matter of hard work, getting more playing time and getting that rhythm back. I know what I need to do from there.” . . . The biggest relief for Gil Meche after his two shutout innings on Saturday was no pain in his back. “I just hope it never comes up again,” he said. “With the work I put in – not to toot my own horn – but I did a lot of things they wanted me to do with the back to ensure I wouldn’t have any problems. Everything has worked out pretty good.”
— Dick Kaegel
Gil Meche has been scratched as the Royals’ starter on Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Reliever Robinson Tejeda was named to replace him.
Meche has a fatigued right shoulder, the Royals reported. He had been bothered by back problems earlier and was slow coming around since being activated from the disabled list. In his four starts since returning he had a 2-1 record with one no-decision and an ERA of 8.14. Meche lost his last game at Seattle, surrendering seven runs in four innings.
This will be Tejeda’s first start this season but the 48th of his career. He’s made 29 relief appearances this year with a 1-1 record and 4.07 ERA. In his last four games, he’s strung together 7 2/3 shutout innings and given up just one hit.
— Dick Kaegel
This isn’t exactly breaking news but, officially, Sir Sidney Ponson became a free agent on Wednesday.
We reported last Sunday that he had been released by the Royals. Now the paper work is done. General manager Dayton Moore told us that Ponson decided against considering a stint with Triple-A Omaha and will take his chances elsewhere
Ponson was just 1-7 and his ERA was 7.36 when the Royals designated him for assignment. Manager Trey Hillman liked his stuff and his work ethic was reported to be good but he just wasn’t getting the job done.
The Royals, by the way, will have to make a roster move on Thursday morning to clear the way for Gil Meche’s return off the disabled list. He’ll start Thursday afternoon at Minnesota.
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
Zack Greinke finally answered the call at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night by pitching six-plus shutout innings and ending his 0-6 career blight there. Royals 2, White Sox 0.
“My offspeed was working and I treated it like a playoff game almost,” Greinke said afterward.
Offspeed, full speed, it all worked for Greinke.
“This is just what me and Gil are supposed to do every time out, I think,” he said.
Gil Meche did all right in the opener with seven innings, leaving with a 2-1 lead that was lost. But, yeah, that’s what Gil and Zack are supposed to do.
And when Juan Cruz and Joakim Soria did what the bullpen is supposed to do, get nine straight outs, the Royals were 1-1 with only 160 games to go.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has trumpeted the Royals as a coming team for a couple of years now.
And here’s what he said after Wednesday night’s game: “They got stronger. I have said that for the last couple of years and this year I said that in Spring Training. This ballclub is going to compete and they are going to give a lot of people headaches. They have a good ballclub all around.”
That’s coming from the manager of the defending division champs.
So maybe it is time for the Royals to say, Hello Central, here we are.