KANSAS CITY -- Gil Meche, eyeing a bullpen job to avoid shoulder surgery, might be sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment before the end of August. That would put him in line to pitch in relief for Kansas City when rosters are expanded in September.
And Royals manager Ned Yost believes Meche, who has started 100 games in his four years with the club, could return in a relief role next year.
"We can maintain his shoulder issues in that role better than he can going out and pitching 100 pitches every fifth day. It lowers his workload and keeps him healthier," Yost said.
"That'll be a decision that we'll look at at the end of the year, but if I had to answer that today, probably, 'Yes.'"
As for this year, Yost sees Meche in the bullpen by September, for sure.
"In a case like that, you've got to protect him," Yost said. "You're trying to get him in a slot where he can start his own inning, you've kind of got a limited pitch count on him of 40 max, and you don't want to use him on back-to-back days.
"When you have those situations, you shorten your 'pen, so you've got to have protection, and September is the obvious choice. We'll have more arms up here, and we'll be able to pitch him under those circumstances and protect him."
Meche was especially impressive in a pregame workout on Sunday.
"He could be a force in our 'pen with his stuff and his fastball," Yost said. "He might be a guy who can work his way into the back of our bullpen."