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03/28/08 10:00 AM ET

Meche eyeing repeat performance

Royals ace making second straight Opening Day start

There's no telling what kind of weather the Royals might run into on Opening Day in Detroit. March 31 in Michigan could be a bit chilly.

Pitcher Gil Meche isn't concerned about that. He's more interested in the Tigers' lineup, forecast as being a formidable storm in itself.

"With all the things that happened with Detroit this offseason and the big talk about their lineup, it's going to be exciting for sure," Meche said. "To see what the temperature is -- the whole game setting there -- I'm sure the fans will be going crazy. It'll be a different environment than I pitched in last year, being at home, so it'll definitely be a different challenge, but I'm looking forward to it."

Last year, Meche was the new Royals ace with a five-year, $55 million contract in his pocket. He had a big Opening Day test at Kauffman Stadium, too -- the Boston Red Sox, a World Series champion in the making. No matter. Meche went 7 1/3 innings for a 7-1 victory.

That was his first start in an opener.

"It's a huge challenge to go out there and get the season rolling in the right direction from the first day," Meche said.

"Hopefully, I can do the same thing. I'm not looking to repeat what I did last year, but if I do -- great. If I do better -- great. I'm going to go out there and pitch my best game and see what I have."

Meche had plenty this spring. In fact, after pitching against the Seattle Mariners in his second-to-last tuneup, he actually seemed a bit stunned.

"I don't remember having this stuff in Spring Training for a long time," Meche said. "My arm feels good, my body feels great, I feel strong, and it's good to see."

Not a bad way to build toward a meeting with Miguel Cabrera, Pudge Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Co.

"The best thing is that I have as much confidence as I could have in all four pitches that I'm throwing, which is what you're going to need against a lineup like [the Tigers']," Meche said.

Matt Tupman, a rookie catcher, caught Meche in that game against the Mariners.

"I was impressed," Tupman said. "He's not a real tricky guy. We used four different pitches, and they were all pretty straightforward. It's not like he's trying to sink the ball. It's a straight fastball, good curveball, the cutter was kind of inconsistent, the changeup -- which I heard before the game was so-so -- turned out to be a really good pitch. It was my first time seeing him. It was a pleasure catching him."

Meche tends to make things a pleasure for his fielders, too.

"You know he's going to be throwing strikes," center fielder David DeJesus said. "He's going to be working ahead in the count, and he's going to be hitting spots most of the time so we can adjust. If he gets in that rhythm and starts throwing strikes, then he keeps us on our toes and it makes the game go by quicker."

And if the temperature dips in Detroit, Meche is ready.

"I've pitched in cold weather. As a pitcher, you can stay warm because you're constantly moving. And between innings, I can go in the clubhouse and do whatever I need to do to stay warm," he said.

"Those guys have to be on the field between innings when they're on defense, they come in and now they've got to hit. For me, I'll stay warm a lot better. Is it a definite advantage for a pitcher? Probably not but who knows? To me, I'm going to say it is and go with it."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.