Gil Meche talks about his time in K.C. and his plans for retirement
Gil Meche acknowledged that his retirement might have been a shock to the reporters on the other end of the conference call. And it was: The pitcher who prefers a low profile was trending worldwide on Twitter on Tuesday, at one point passing up Regis Philbin, who also made a major announcement.
Meche felt great during his first two and a half years in Kansas City. Recently, he was admitted to being worn down, both physically and mentally. He said that his injury in 2009 wasn’t career-threatening. He admits that he came back too early that year, though he felt comfortable in bullpen throwing sessions in September. He felt fine at the outset of 2010, then the injuries hit and he felt like he wasn’t earning the contract he signed in December of 2006, which wore on him mentally.
Best Kansas City memory: Meche leaves Kansas City with good memories, friendships and a large amount of respect for the Royals organization. His favorite memory of Kansas City (and one of the best moments in his baseball career) came in 2007. He started on Opening Day, holding the Red Sox to a run on six hits and a walk over 7.1 innings. Upon leaving the field, Meche received a standing ovation from the crowd (above). He has since seen the photo around Kansas City, which he appreciates.
Complete-game shutout: Was the 132-pitch complete game shutout in 2009 a factor in Meche’s shoulder problems? Meche stated once again that the outing had nothing to do with his status today. He knows his body and would not have pitched one extra inning if he felt that the inning would eventually put a halt to his career. He wanted to throw the complete game, he felt fine, and the whole thing was blown out of proportion.
Decision time: Meche didn’t think that he could be healthy for all of 2011, which led him to think about retirement. The pitcher took his time with this decision and received support from his family, friends and agents. He mentioned it to his dad in mid-December. His dad said “If your heart isn’t in it, then it’s an easy decision,” which surprised Gil a bit. Meche and his agency approached the Royals in January as he wanted to give the club enough time to sort through other pitching options (versus coming to spring training and not being able to throw). Since the Royals were notified, they have inked pitchers Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen for 2011. The right-handed Meche stated that a contract settlement was never an option that he considered. He spoke several times about his respect for the Royals and believes that they are headed toward great things.
Up next: Meche has never been one for crowds – he is looking to get back to a “normal life”. He doesn’t think that he’ll ever regret his decision to leave baseball or the contract. He’ll miss the friendships, though he plans to stay in touch with his network of baseball friends that stretches all over the world. When asked if he planned to travel, Meche explained that he had traveled nearly 15 years. He just wants to sleep in his own bed on a regular basis. While he’s looking forward to some time at home and a few rounds of golf, he knows that his competitive drive will take him in a new direction soon – he cited a baseball academy as a possible way to give back to youth in his native Louisiana.
We wish Gil well in this new stage of his life and thank him for the last four seasons in Royal blue!