The Gil Meche the Seattle Mariners waited six seasons to see will pitch at Safeco Field Saturday – in a Kansas City Royals uniform.
Over his first five starts this year, Meche has average seven innings, striking out 24 men, walking only seven.
"He’s everything we’d hoped he could be for us," manager Buddy Bell said.
Meche always had the potential to be a top of the rotation starter, and Mariners managers Lou Piniella, Bob Melvin and Mike Hargrove all saw it but couldn’t reach him. Instead, Meche as a Mariner was a streaky pitcher with a history of eccentricities that occasionally kept him from winning.
One spring, for instance, after a solid outing he praised team trainers who’d taped his abdomen for keeping him the correct pitching position.
One start later, he was hammered – and complained that the same tape burned him when it was taken off.
Life with Gil Meche was an adventure in Seattle, where he won 55 games and lost 44. There were times he could be electric and times when there seemed no current in his wires.
The Mariners have often been ridiculed for letting their best players move on – Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and others – and Meche may now have the career Seattle fans t hought he’d have here.
But for $11 million a season in a five-year package, it’s hard to criticize Seattle for not keeping Meche.