Notes: Meche on target in debut

Notes: Meche on target in debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Forget that this was a Spring Training game. It was much more than that with Gil Meche making his Royals debut.

Meche's five-year, $55 million contract -- matching Mike Sweeney's as the richest in club history -- had been highly publicized in the offseason.

"The exposure he has gotten and what we're looking for him to do, I think this is an important outing for him as far as getting it out of the way, getting it behind him and getting himself ready," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "I was pretty impressed. I've seen him before, but this is a different situation for him."

Meche, a 28-year-old right-hander who was signed to be the staff ace, pitched three scoreless innings on Friday in the Royals' 8-6 victory over the Rangers. He allowed two singles and walked one.

"I feel like it is going to be a big year for me to go out there and establish myself to where I want to be," Meche said. "I'll take just one inning at a time, keep moving along in Spring Training and get as sharp as I can for the season and go get them."

The Rangers ran out their top guns -- Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock -- against Meche.

"They've seen me a good bit," Meche said of the Rangers. "They usually get the better half of me in their ballpark. I'm just trying to be aggressive as I can. My arm felt great. It is something I've never done on my first time out, go three innings. I was pleased to see my velocity the same in the third inning as it was in the first. The curveball wasn't quite what I needed today. Other than that, it was a good day."

Hochevar healthy outing: Luke Hochevar, the No.1 overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, worked two scoreless innings against the Rangers in a "B" game on Friday morning. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out two, including Sammy Sosa.

It was Hochevar's first outing since being shut down in the Arizona Fall League with soreness in his right shoulder.

"Knock on wood, I felt great," Hochevar said. "I haven't had a problem since I started back throwing. Hopefully, that will continue. To me, it is something of the past. It wasn't anything major, just a little tightness. I got through that. Hopefully, it stays out of my way the rest of my career."

Hochevar got Sosa swinging on a slider down and away.

"As long as I can remember, he's been playing," Hochevar said. "To have the opportunity to pitch against him is quite an honor. You respect a guy like that, but then again, you have to compete and go right after him. That was a lot of fun.

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"Anytime you're facing the bad guys, the adrenaline gets going and your competitive nature comes out. It is always awesome to experience that and compete."

Hochevar said he worked on softening his landing and riding the plane of the mound to "get a better angle down on the baseball.

"I still have some work to do," he said. "I made some improvements on the things I'm trying to get done. It is coming along."

The Royals pitched several of their top prospects -- Bill Buckner, Tyler Lumsden, Carlos Rosa, Danny Christensen and Hochevar -- in the "B" game.

"I had never seen Rosa at all," Bell said. "Stuff-wise, he's right up there with those other guys. That is a pleasant surprise. He was really impressive."

Rosa worked a scoreless inning and, also, struck out Sosa, who went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Signings complete: The Royals agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder Shane Costa and right-handed pitcher Ken Ray. With those signings, the Royals have everybody signed for 2007.

Royals tidbits: Ryan Shealy hit a three-run homer in the Royals' six-run fourth. ... Left-hander Jimmy Gobble gave up a two-run homer in the seventh to Victor Diaz to tie the score at 6, but picked up the victory. Costa's run-producing double in the bottom of the inning put the Royals back ahead. ... Matt Wright worked out of a ninth-inning jam by getting a game-ending double play to pick up a save. ... The Royals have 24 hits in their first two games and are hitting .333. ... Royals individual game tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. CT on Saturday. Tickets will be available at ... The Royals signed another player from their open tryout camp. He is first baseman Michael Thompson, who has played in the Astros organization.

Upcoming: Left-hander Odalis Perez will start on Saturday against the Rangers. Todd Wellemeyer, Ray, Ryan Braun and Leo Nunez are also scheduled to pitch for the Royals. Vicente Padilla will start for the Rangers.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.