07/09/07 8:16 PM ET
Meche enjoying All-Star atmosphere
Right-hander knows there's plenty left to get done this season
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
But Meche, formerly of the the Mariners, never let that big contract he signed in the offseason weigh on him. Of course, he'd heard that he wasn't worth it. So what? The negative thinking wasn't about to affect him.
"I'm pretty low-key," Meche said Monday. "I'm not going to let anything get to me in that fashion. I'm not just trying to go out there and have fun. I try not to put myself above anybody else."
The latter might not be easy to do anymore, now that Meche has an honor that pitchers around the American League might trade a couple of shutouts for -- or even a no-hitter. Meche, the ace of the Royals staff, is an American League All-Star.
His 5-6 record might not look as gaudy as Justin Verlander's or Dan Haren's or C.C. Sabathia's, but Meche pitches for a young, rebuilding team that has had its growing pains. A better measure of Meche's season might be his ERA, which sits at 3.54.
It shows how well, even under the glare of media attention that has been focused on him, he has pitched for the Royals. He's been pleased with his work.
"Not that I just wanted to pitch to the benefit of the contract, it was more of going to a new organization and wanting to pitch well," he said. "My big thing going into Spring Training is to make sure the organization knew they didn't make a mistake in signing me.
"That was something I wanted to prove."
He saw his selection has silenced critics of his contract.
"Everybody has opinions, you know," he said. "That's fine with me. I knew I had something to prove. I felt like I had something to prove in Seattle, too."
So he's not trying to pitch for the critics; he's pitching for a new team that needs a dependable innings-eater at the top of its rotation. The Royals, who signed him as a free agent, have found that in Meche so far.
He has turned into the pitcher that people thought he could be with Seattle, where the 28-year-old right-hander went 60-50 with a 4.50 ERA in even seasons.
"I just felt it was time to move on," he said. "A lot of guys go to new organizations and pitch well, just getting a fresh start. I felt like that's what I needed. Things have gone really well this year."
Yet even Meche knows the season is hardly over. He's got almost three more months of pitching ahead of him. So his final grade is an incomplete, just as it is for everybody else who made the All-Star team.
But for the next few days, the second half can wait as Meche basks in the glow of his first All-Star trip. What is on his mind now is the All-Star Game, and the bright lights and public glare that he'll be under Tuesday night.
He's hoping that bright lights will get brighter, and they will if manager Jim Leyland calls Meche in to pitch. Meche hopes it happens.
"I really want to pitch, and that's about it," he said. "I'm going to get everything out of it and have as much fun as I can.
"I'm so blessed. I'm going to have a good time, have a good experience and get what I can get out of it and go home with some good memories."
Justice B. Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.