Meche leaves game early on Friday
Righty exits with tightness in lower back, will be reexamined
KANSAS CITY -- Gil Meche felt pain on his first pitch to Jose Vidro in the second inning on Friday night. It usually disappears, but this time it stayed with him for the rest of his start against the Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.
Meche was eventually removed by pitching coach Bob McClure and assistant athletic trainer Frank Kyte after allowing a single to Yuniesky Betancourt in the fifth inning. The right-hander was diagnosed with tightness in his lower back and will be reexamined Saturday.
"Usually [the pain] is later in the game when that muscle gets a little tired and I am trying to push it," Meche said. "But in the second inning, I knew I wasn't going to get hurt by being out there. I was just trying to get into a groove to where I could loosen up, but I got to a point where I just couldn't push off the mound."
Meche said he has experienced the pain "many times" before. The right-hander should be able to make his scheduled bullpen session and take the ball in his next outing.
"I will be fine in two days," he said. "It almost like a tweak in my lower back and in my glute, and it almost got to a point where I just couldn't push. It was just soreness like a strain when you try to pull your left shoulder towards the plate and you feel like your whole backside just dies. It almost feels like you are throwing changeups."
Meche finished with his worst line of the season: seven runs and a career-high 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He tossed 90 pitches, 55 for strikes.
"I was kind of using my arm and you see what happens, nothing was sharp, velocity dropped a good bit," he said. "I kept pulling pitches and trying to use my arm and I just couldn't get anything done. ... I just never got to a point where I could never let the ball go."
Meche permitted two runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings and a single run in the second off his former team. Ichiro Suzuki was the main culprit, collecting a homer and an RBI single.
"He was in the middle of the plate way too much and against a team like this, you can't afford to do this," manager Buddy Bell said. "They have a very good offensive ballclub."
After a brilliant start to his season, Meche has allowed 12 earned runs covering 9 1/3 innings in his last two starts. He is 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA and ranks among the American League leaders in innings pitched (70 2/3) and quality starts (eight) after Friday night.
Meche, acquired in a five-year, $55 million deal in the offseason from Seattle, has made at least 26 starts in three of the past four seasons, including 32 in 2006. He has not made a trip to the disabled list since Aug. 20 - Sept. 16, 2005, because of patellar tendinitis -- and doesn't plan to after the aborted start.
"I know the doctor and trainers were worried, but I have had this almost every year," he said. "It's something I go through and I will probably be fine either [Saturday] or [Sunday]."
Mariners starter Felix Hernandez also saw his start end prematurely. He left the game with a stiff lower back with one out in the top of the fifth.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.