Meche named All-Star for first time
Ace Royals' lone representative for Midsummer Classic
KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Gil Meche, the Royals' prize acquisition last winter, now is their representative on the 2007 American League All-Star team.
Meche was selected by AL manager Jim Leyland as the teams from both leagues were announced on Sunday. Meche is the only Royals player picked for the July 10 game at San Francisco.
"It's going to be great to go there and represent the Royals," Meche said. "I'm pretty excited, to be honest. I'm a little antsy to get there and see what it's all about."
Although Meche's record is 5-6, he's pitched well enough to have a better mark but has suffered from lack of run support. His ERA of 3.28 ranks 10th in the AL and he's sixth in the league in innings pitched at 109 2/3.
"I've pitched pretty well and eaten up a lot of innings, which is something I wanted to do coming to a new team," he said. "Coming in here with all the hype about everything, I'm pretty pleased with what I've done this year."
This is his first All-Star selection. Meche thought he had a chance to be selected in 2003 when he was 10-5 with a 3.61 ERA before the break but wasn't chosen.
"I was kind of disappointed then. Now I get a shot to go over there and whether I pitch or not, it's going to be fun to be there," he said.
The 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be held July 10 at San Francisco's AT&T Park, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
The 2003 season marked the introduction of the Player Ballot to the All-Star selection process. Each league's players, managers and coaches elect eight position players and eight pitchers from their league. Catchers and infielders who finish in the top two at their position on the Player Ballot, and outfielders among the top six, are assured of making the All-Star Team. In instances where the winners of the Player Ballot are also fan-elected starters, the player with the next highest amount of votes on the Player Ballot makes the All-Star Team. Eight pitchers -- five starters and three relievers -- become All-Stars through the Player Ballot. The manager of each World Series team from the prior season -- in this year's case, Detroit's Jim Leyland and St. Louis' Tony La Russa -- then fills the remaining slots on their respective teams, ensuring that one player from all 30 clubs is named to the All-Star Game.
This is the fourth straight season that the Royals have had just one player selected. Last year it was pitcher Mark Redman, in 2005 it was first baseman Mike Sweeney and in 2004 it was first baseman Ken Harvey. The 2003 club had both Sweeney and pitcher Mike MacDougal.
"Gil has definitely pitched like an All-Star all season and he deserves it," Sweeney said. "It was kind of fun today during the game. He was asking me what to expect and what's the routine, and I was able to offer him that so it was pretty fun."
"The way he's pitched from the beginning of the season, he should have more wins. But that's the way baseball is," fellow starter Odalis Perez said. "Everybody on this team and front office has to be happy. He signed that deal and I'd say his selection to the All-Star team lets these people here know that he wants to be here to win."
Right fielder Mark Teahen and catcher John Buck were other Royals expected to receive consideration as All-Stars. Relief pitchers David Riske and Joakim Soria were long shots.
Meche was 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA after his first nine starts but then lost five in a row. He's since won his past two decisions.
"He gives us a chance to win every single time," manager Buddy Bell said. "Gil's numbers record-wise should be better, but I don't think anyone has given his team a better chance to win than Gil. Certainly his ERA is low. I'm happy for him."
If the Royals' scheduled rotation holds, Meche would pitch on the Sunday before the All-Star break. But that could change.
"I talked to Buddy today, and he mentioned maybe pitching Saturday," Meche said. "That would be my fifth day anyway. He said he'd let me know, probably tomorrow."
"If I had a better chance to pitch [in the All-Star Game], yeah, I'd rather pitch on Saturday."
Meche joins an AL pitching staff that also includes Detroit's Justin Verlander, Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Minnesota's Johan Santana. Also in the clubhouse will be such stars as Derek Jeter, Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz.
"It's kind of surreal," Meche said. "It'll probably hit me when I get off the plane in San Francisco about what it really means to me and my family. It's a big deal."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.