ATLANTA -- Wilson Betemit was a sensational talent in the Dominican Republic, so much so that the Braves got in some trouble for signing him. He was just 14 years old when he inked the deal on July 28, 1996.

The Braves were sanctioned by Major League Baseball, which levied a fine and a temporary restriction on scouting players in the Dominican in 2000.

Betemit was "next" for the Braves. He was a switch-hitting shortstop with tools, and he was going to be a fixture for the Atlanta organization.

He could do it all, including a five-foot back flip as he ran out to shortstop in Class A ball. The Braves, fearful of an injury, ordered Betemit to stop doing the flips.

"He was a marvelous player," said Brian Snitker, the Braves third-base coach and Betemit's coach at Class A Myrtle Beach.

Things did not work out. Betemit hit .305 in 115 games for Atlanta in 2005, but he was traded to the Dodgers in 2006 and shipped to the Yankees and White Sox before becoming a free agent last October. He signed with the Royals in the offseason.

"There were a lot of expectations for him," sad Dayton Moore, the Royals general manager, who was with the Braves when Betemit was signed.

Ned Yost, the Royals manager and former coach with the Braves, still thinks Betemit is plenty valuable.

"He is a great National League-type player because of everything he can do, and the way they use guys over here," Yost said.

Meche works on arm slot in shoulder rehab

ATLANTA -- On his way into the Royals dugout after a short bullpen session Sunday, a teammate called out to pitcher Gil Meche about how his right shoulder felt.

Meche gave a flat wave with the palm of his hand, as if to say, "50-50, so-so, sometimes good, sometimes not so good."

It depended, Meche said, about whether he was on the mound or not. Of course, that's a problem.

"I'm throwing really good on flat ground, but when I'm on the mound, I'm doing something different mechanically with my arm slot," Meche said. "It's almost as if I'm going a little bit higher.

"When I throw on the mound, they make me think about it right before I am about to throw, being as low as I can be [with the arm slot] and I feel like I am side-arming it. They say I'm not. They want to videotape it so I can see it and I get comfortable."

Meche is eligible to come off the disabled list, but he is not expected back until after the All-Star break with what has been described as bursitis in his right shoulder.

Meche has been on the shelf off-and-on the last year. Meche is 0-4 with 6.66 ERA.

"It's tough. I need to be out there," Meche said. "I have this contract, and I need to earn it. You try not to get too down.

"It's a matter of getting the delivery consistent. The arm slot is the biggest thing I'm trying to conquer right now."

Quote of the day

"If I was a singer, I wouldn't have wanted to follow Elvis on stage. So to the guy who follows Bobby Cox as manager of the Braves, I say, 'Good luck!'"
-- Royals manager Ned Yost, on the retirement following the season of his friend and former boss