Royals' starter Meche turns to relieving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Royals right-hander Gil Meche has decided to try coming back as a reliever instead of opting for season-ending shoulder surgery.

Meche was expected to have shoulder surgery this week and hopefully be ready for spring training next year. His shoulder did not respond well in a minor-league rehab start last Monday and an arthroscopic exploratory procedure was recommended.

After Meche saw doctors for further examination, he was advised if he underwent surgery in August he also would miss all of next season.

"The surgery would be extensive," manager Ned Yost said after Sunday's 5-4 victory over Baltimore.

Now, Meche wants to see if his shoulder can hold up for shorter bullpen stints instead of trying to throw 100-plus pitches every fifth day as a starter. He threw a bullpen session Sunday.

"He wholeheartedly wants it," Yost said.

Meche, 31, has been on the disabled list since May 29 with what the club described as shoulder bursitis. Meche, the first upper-tier free agent the Royals signed, has battled injuries the past two seasons. He has one year left on a $55 million, five-year contract.

Meche is 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA in nine starts this year. His last game was May 25 against Texas.

He has made four relief appearances in his career and none since Oct. 1, 2005, for Seattle against Oakland.