Royals hopeful RHP Gil Meche's shoulder is OK

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are hoping Gil Meche's stiff right shoulder won't cause him to miss any starts.

Meche was scheduled to throw 75 pitches and go five innings Monday, but left early. He came out after 56 pitches and three innings because of stiffness in his shoulder and neck.

Manager Trey Hillman says it's doubtful that Meche will have his normal bullpen session Wednesday. While the Royals' rotation is thin, Hillman says there are no plans to look outside the organization for another starter.

Meche is in the fourth year of a five-year, $55 million contract. He was limited to 23 starts and 129 innings last season because of shoulder and back problems. He started only four games after the All-Star break with an 8.14 ERA.

Meche is slated to be the Royals' No. 2 starter behind 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, but that is in jeopardy to begin the season.

If Meche were healthy, Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies would probably fill out the final three rotation slots, but they were a combined 22-34 last season.

Kyle Farnsworth, who has not started since 2000 with the Chicago Cubs, and Robinson Tejeda, who made six starts in September after spending most of the year in the bullpen, are rotation candidates.

The Royals are taking a longer look at left-hander Edgar Osuna, a Rule 5 draft pick who has not pitched above Double-A Mississippi, as a starter.

"They are all factors," Hillman said.

Hillman also said non-roster invitees Bryan Bullington, Brad Thompson and Bruce Chen are candidates to fill out the rotation. Bullington threw three innings Monday against the Chicago White Sox and allowed an unearned run and struck out four.

"We're still keeping all options open," Hillman said. "We've had to make some adjustments to our pitching schedule because of the Gil situation. We're trying to be open-minded and not count any of those guys I mentioned out of the mix.

"There's always got to be contingency plans everyday. That's just part of it. You can never have too much pitching depth. It's just impossible because guys are going to break and guys are going to miss a bullpen session or a start. You've got to deal with what you've got. You've to plan accordingly."