It’s no secret the Royals will be watching closely this afternoon to see if right-hander Gil Meche shows any signs of the “dead arm” that limited his effectiveness last Friday in Pittsburgh.
You can play along, too, by tracking Meche’s velocity on the radar gun in the 1:10 p.m. game against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium. If he is topping out in the high 80s, regard that as a warning siren.
“Everything else feeds off my fastball,” Meche said. “So if my fastball is not good, my curveball is going to be terrible. So on and so forth. I’ve never had to be a pitcher who completely relied on location.
“The other day, I gave up a couple of home runs right over the plate. If those pitches are 93-94 (mph), maybe they get fouled off. It makes the biggest difference in the world.”
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Meche believes he’s battling a “little built-up tendinitis _ nothing serious.” He also anticipates no problems after an air-it-out throwing session Monday that followed two days of not throwing at all.
“Everybody goes through this,” he said. “I’ve had it many times in the past. It’s just a matter of getting through it. It’s just a little fatigue. I’ve just got to get through a couple of starts and everything will be fine.”
Meche joins club officials in dismissing concerns that his ineffectiveness in his last two starts stemmed from throwing a career-high 132 pitches June 16 in a complete-game shutout against Arizona.
“I felt fine warming up in the bullpen (before allowing nine runs in 3 1/3 innings against St. Louis),” he said. “It’s just the other day (in Pittsburgh) that I didn’t feel I had it.
“Then in the game, obviously, I didn’t have it. So I just tried to labor through five innings. No pain or anything. I just didn’t have my normal velocity.”
Pitching coach Bob McClure suggests the problem resulted from Meche trying to do too much when he began struggling against the Cardinals.
“He had just pitched a shutout,” McClure said. “Now, he tries to be even better than that. And when it didn’t go right, he tried even harder. I think that had more to do with it than the 132 pitches.”
Meche was 4-5 with a 3.31 ERA after the shutout with a streak of four straight quality starts. Those losses to St. Louis and Pittsburgh dropped him to 4-7 and spiked his ERA to 4.27.
“If it goes great (today) then, obviously, that’s good,” he said. “If it’s the way it was (in Pittsburgh), then we’ll know that, too. But when I threw (Monday), I felt good enough to pitch.
“We’ll see (today). That’s the test, the only test.”
Guillen sits again
Outfielder José Guillen wasn’t in the starting lineup for second straight game because of soreness near his left hip and groin. Guillen entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.
Guillen said he’s battled the problem for a while.
“We’ve been trying to get it right,” he said, “but it’s not been working so far. I’m just going to keep trying and trying to get treatment for whatever the problem is. I don’t want to go into a lot of details right now, but I’ve not been playing at 100 percent.”
Guillen is batting .255 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 61 games.
“I’ve played through some serious injuries in the past,” he said, “but this one is really affecting me. It’s affecting my swing. It’s affecting my running. It’s something that I need to take care of. I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to get it right.”
Third baseman Alex Gordon is scheduled to shift his rehab playing assignment Friday to Class AAA Omaha, where he figures to be a major attendance attraction as a native Nebraskan who became an All-American as a Cornhusker.
Gordon never played professionally in Omaha prior to reaching the big leagues. He is recovering from April 17 surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right hip and began his rehab assignment last Friday at Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League.
Gordon played defense Monday, for four innings, after spending his first two games as a designated hitter. He is two for seven with two walks.
It appears pitcher Zack Greinke, assuming he is selected to the American League squad, is the Royals’ only hope of landing a starter in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2000.
The final AL balloting update, released Tuesday, again showed no Royals among the top five in balloting at any of their positions for the July 14 game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
In-stadium balloting is already over, although online voting continues through 10:59 p.m. Thursday at www.mlb.com and the 30 club web sites, including www.royals.com. Fans do not vote on pitchers.
The teams will be announced at noon Sunday on TBS. Every team is guaranteed at least one selection on the 32-man rosters.
John Lair of Pittsburg, Kan., is the Royals’ selection in the “All-Stars Among Us” campaign that seeks to recognize individuals for special acts of community service. One individual from each team will be recognized at the All-Star Game.
Lair is the program director for New Hope Services and a long-time coach in the Special Olympics. He has coached three world champion Special Olympians.
Davies sparkles again
Kyle Davies worked six more scoreless innings Tuesday in Class AAA Omaha’s 9-0 victory over Albuquerque. Davies pitched eight scoreless innings last Thursday at Memphis in his first start after being demoted to the minors.
Davies allowed five hits against Albuquerque while striking out five and walking two in a 98-pitch performance. He was 3-7 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts for the Royals before losing his spot in the rotation.
Outfielder David Lough was promoted to Class AA Northwest Arkansas from Class A Wilmington. He was batting .320 for the Blue Rocks with five homers and 30 RBIs in 65 games.
Lough, 22, recently started for the Carolina League All-Star Game in its loss to the California League All-Stars. He was an 11th-round pick in the 2007 draft.
It was six years ago today _ July 1, 2003 _ that Mike MacDougal set a Royals record for saves by a rookie by getting his 21st in a 6-3 victory over Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium.
The previous rookie record was 20 by Doug Bird in 1973. MacDougal finished the season with 27 saves.
Etc.• First-pitch honors went to Rick Settle of Olathe East and Morgan Johnson of Platte County, who were chosen recently as The Kansas City Star’s 2009 scholar-athletes of the year. • The Royals signed shortstop Justin Trapp, a 34th-round draft pick from Fairfield Central High School in South Carolina. The club now has 24 of its 49 draft picks under contract. • Birthday wishes to outfielder Mitch Maier, who turned 27 on Tuesday. Former Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek marked his 39th birthday on Tuesday.• Miguel Olivo’s triple in Monday’s victory was the 29th of the season for the Royals _ easily the most in the majors. Pittsburgh ranked second at 21. The Royals have already topped last year’s total of 28, but the club record remains a formidable hurdle _ 79 by the 1979 team.
To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to email@example.com.