SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Forget that this was a Spring Training game. It was much more than that with Gil Meche making his Royals debut. Meche's five-year, $55 million contract -- matching Mike Sweeney's as the richest in club history -- had been highly publicized in the offseason. "The exposure he has gotten and what we're looking for him to do, I think this is an important outing for him as far as getting it out of the way, getting it behind him and getting himself ready," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "I was pretty impressed. I've seen him before, but this is a different situation for him."
Meche, a 28-year-old right-hander who was signed to be the staff ace, pitched three scoreless innings on Friday in the Royals' 8-6 victory over the Rangers. He allowed two singles and walked one. "I feel like it is going to be a big year for me to go out there and establish myself to where I want to be," Meche said. "I'll take just one inning at a time, keep moving along in Spring Training and get as sharp as I can for the season and go get them." The Rangers ran out their top guns -- Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock -- against Meche. "They've seen me a good bit," Meche said of the Rangers. "They usually get the better half of me in their ballpark. I'm just trying to be aggressive as I can. My arm felt great. It is something I've never done on my first time out, go three innings. I was pleased to see my velocity the same in the third inning as it was in the first. The curveball wasn't quite what I needed today. Other than that, it was a good day." Hochevar healthy outing: Luke Hochevar, the No.1 overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, worked two scoreless innings against the Rangers in a "B" game on Friday morning. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out two, including Sammy Sosa. It was Hochevar's first outing since being shut down in the Arizona Fall League with soreness in his right shoulder. "Knock on wood, I felt great," Hochevar said. "I haven't had a problem since I started back throwing. Hopefully, that will continue. To me, it is something of the past. It wasn't anything major, just a little tightness. I got through that. Hopefully, it stays out of my way the rest of my career." Hochevar got Sosa swinging on a slider down and away. "As long as I can remember, he's been playing," Hochevar said. "To have the opportunity to pitch against him is quite an honor. You respect a guy like that, but then again, you have to compete and go right after him. That was a lot of fun.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.