Notes: Meche misses out on rain
Righty throws five shutout frames in Minor League game
TUCSON -- While rain washed out the Royals for the second straight day in the fourth inning, Gil Meche was able to get in his work back at the Surprise complex.With the threat of rain imminent, the Royals opted to have Meche stay behind and throw in a Minor League intrasquad game instead of taking a 2 1/2-hour bus ride to Tucson Electric Park and possibly not getting to pitch against the Diamondbacks. Meche threw 77 pitches in five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. "He pitched pretty efficient, which is what we like to see," Royals manager Buddy Bell said from his reports. "All I know is he pitched very well." Closer Octavio Dotel and setup man David Riske also pitched in the Minor League game. Dotel struck out one and walked one in two-thirds of an inning, while Riske walked two and struck out one in one inning. Bell said Meche and left-hander Odalis Perez would start the first two games of the season against the Red Sox. "We're not sure where everyone else fits," Bell said. "It has a lot to do with how [Luke] Hudson feels." Hudson could start the season on the disabled list with tightness in his right shoulder. Bell said he hopes Hudson could start on April 8 -- the first time the club would need a fifth starter. "Three and four [in the rotation] is what we're dealing with right now," Bell said. "I'll tell you I prefer right-left, right-left." In that scenario, right-hander Zack Greinke would start the third game, while left-hander Jorge De La Rosa would get the call for the fourth. Grudzielanek possible: Bell said "there's a good chance" Mark Grudzielanek would play in a Spring Training game. Grudzielanek had arthroscopic knee surgery on March 5. And if Grudzielanek plays in a game in March and has no setbacks, Bell said there is a chance he would be the Opening Day second baseman. "That's his goal, whether that happens we've got to see how he feels after a normal day -- on a day, where he has not been limited in what he does," Bell said. "He's not there yet, but he could be in the next couple of days."
The Royals have been careful in bringing Grudzielanek back."The thing to do is to be as cautious as we can, just because of the time of the year," Bell said. "You don't want to have Grud on a week, off a week, that kind of thing. I think the medical team has been solid in their assessment what he should do and can't do, but it's really at a point now where Grud wants to do more than he has up to this point.
"So we're going to let him do that, which means he might have a chance to play in a game or two down here. We need to see how he feels after a more strenuous day."Soria to stick: The Royals plan on opening the season with Rule 5 Draft pick Joakim Soria in the bullpen. If they do not put him on the 25-man roster, they would have to offer Soria back to the Padres for $25,000 should he clear waivers, which would be unlikely. Soria has a 2.57 ERA in five appearances covering 14 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .218 average. "It's not official, but you can speculate he's pitched well enough to be a solid consideration," Bell said. "He hasn't harmed his chances. He's helped his chances." Roster moves: The Royals placed right-hander Joe Nelson, who had shoulder surgery earlier this month, on the 60-day disabled list to make roster space for shortstop Tony Pena Jr., who was acquired in a trade with the Braves. ... The Royals reassigned catcher Matt Tupman to the Minor League camp. Rainy day blues: Todd Wellemeyer threw only seven pitches in the fourth inning against the Diamondbacks on Friday before rain halted the action. Two straight rainouts have played havoc with the Royals' pitching plans. Kansas City has several relievers stacked up with limited or no work on Thursday and Friday. The list includes Kenny Ray, Jimmy Gobble, Ryan Braun and Jason Standridge. "It doesn't help our pitching," Bell said. "We'll probably have to use some Minor League games the next few days to get guys [throwing on] back-to-back [days]. This is unusual for down here. You usually don't get this kind of weather this late in the spring." Wellemeyer is scheduled to throw again on Saturday. There are at least two spots still up for grabs in the bullpen. "I thought Standridge has kind of opened some eyes up," Bell said. "He's done a good job here lately. Braun has thrown well here lately. They have not only thrown well, but they've thrown strikes with command. That is what we're needing to see." The Royals scored four runs in the first inning Friday, with Alex Gordon, Emil Brown and Billy Butler all delivering RBI singles. The other run scored when John Buck grounded into a double play. The Royals were ahead, 4-1, when the game was called. On deck: Perez will be the Royals' starter on Saturday against the Mariners at Peoria Stadium. Jarrod Washburn is slated to start for Seattle.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.