Notes: Meche learning new tricks

Notes: Right-hander Meche learning new tricks

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Toe, not heel.

That is the reminder that Gil Meche gives himself every time he takes the mound for the Royals. Should he forget, pitching coach Bob McClure is there to remind him.

"I'm slowly working into this new delivery they're trying to get me into," Meche said, "as far as not landing on my heel. And I tell you, when I do it, it's something good to see. The ball jumps out of my hand, throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters."

In today's start against the Angels, Meche allowed two runs -- a two-run homer to Jeff Mathis in the fourth that barely cleared the fence -- on four hits, walked none and struck out four.

"It's just something I have to work on every day," Meche said. "I've been landing on my heel my whole career, probably my whole life. It's coming along pretty quick, a little bit quicker than I thought it would. [The coaches] like what they see. Obviously, my arm likes what it feels. So put those two things together and, hopefully, everything will work out.

"The ball has a lot more life to it, a lot better carry through the zone. I'm throwing strikes with my offspeed pitches. I'm getting the action I want to see. Today was one of those days. I left one slider up and [Mathis] got enough of it out here in Arizona to get it out of the ballpark. Other than that, it was pretty good from what I saw. I'm definitely happy with how my arm feels in camp right now. Hopefully, I'll keep refining this heel thing.

"I don't feel like I'm trying to push the ball. It freed up my arm a lot better, which is something they told me it was going to do when they started looking at tapes of me in the past. I definitely see the results. In the past, I've been a guy who walked people here and there. I feel the improvement day-to-day, and it's something good to see."

Gordon returns: Alex Gordon, who jammed his right shoulder while diving for a ball on Friday, went through all the drills, including throwing, with no problems and played in the Royals' 11-4 loss to the Angels. He ran for Mike Sweeney, who had walked in the sixth, and in his only at-bat reached on an error in the ninth and scored a run.

Manager Buddy Bell said Gordon would start on Tuesday against the Angels if he has no soreness in the morning.

"Obviously, we want to make sure that he is OK and he won't have to deal with this issue anymore," Bell said. "He is somebody that is very important to us, not that all these guys are not, but with a young guy like that we want to be a little more cautious."

Other injuries: Left-hander John Bale has been shut down with what the club has said is a strained lat, although he said it is more in the triceps area.

"I think there is a chance he'll get an MRI," Bell said. "He is not feeling all that better, if any. Hopefully, this is not serious, either. We'll know more in the next couple of days on John. He won't pitch for awhile."

Spring Training
News and features:
• Duckworth on making rotation:  350K
• Soria talks about making team:  350K
• Grudzielanek on returning to action:  350K
• Skipper Bell on Royals' status:  350K
• Royals GM Moore on Pena, infield:  300K
• Royals' Bell on remaining spots:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

"It got tight and gradually stiffened up and that is why I got out of there," Bale said.

Brian Bannister, who was struck by a line drive in the left knee in a "B" game on Sunday, said he kept his leg propped up all night.

"Good news, I'm cleared to do everything," Bannister said.

Bell said Joe Nelson had his shoulder surgery delayed because of a respiratory problem.

"They can't do any type of surgery when you're not up to it," Bell said. "They'll wait until that is cleared up before they do the surgery. We don't know when, probably in the next couple of days."

Dr. Steve Joyce will perform the surgery in Kansas City.

Trimming time: The Royals, who have 60 players in camp, will make their first cuts on Tuesday. Bell said between 10 to 15 players would be reassigned to Minor League camp.

"They're all tough," Bell said. "There is not going to be any real surprises. It is just trying to clean up our roster a little bit to where we can get some more things done. Guys are going to get more innings as the games go on."

On deck: Todd Wellemeyer will start on Tuesday against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium in a 3:05 p.m. CT start. The other Royals pitchers will include David Riske and Neal Musser. John Lackey will start for the Angels.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.