Zack Greinke takes a break from vacation to talk about his friend Gil Meche
You probably know that Gil Meche decided to retire, but if you’re like me you’re still stunned he’s walking away from $12.4 million. It’s a fascinating story, as I wrote this morning the man is once again by defined by money — but this time it’s on his terms.
Meche made the 2007 All-Star team and finished fifth in strikeouts the next year, but as far as contributions to the Royals*, his legacy may be as Zack Greinke’s big brother. GM Dayton Moore has always credited Meche’s presence for allowing Greinke to “blend in,” and draws a direct connection to Zack’s success in 2008 and 2009. * Of course, besides the money, Meche’s time in Kansas City will be remembered for his 132-pitch complete game against Arizona in June 2009. The story’s been told plenty, but then-manager Trey Hillman wanted to go to the bullpen after eight innings, but Meche essentially vetoed him. He got the shutout, but was never the same, the Royals completely mismanaging Meche after that. As obvious as the connection is, Meche has always defended Hillman and said the extra pitches had nothing to do with his failing health. Of course, it’s in Meche’s self-interest for that to be the case, too.
You don’t have to believe that (I tend to think it had more to do with Zack’s talent), but Moore does, and more importantly, Zack does, too. The Star’s badass Royals beat writer Bob Dutton reached Zack on vacation yesterday for a short conversation. The first quote here appeared in Terez Paylor’s story. The last one is pure Zack.
Anyway, here’s Zack on getting help from Meche:
“Gil definitely helped me a lot. It wasn’t so much talking about baseball as it was watching him go about his business. On game day, nobody was as focused as Gil. He took the ball and never wanted to come out of games. Other guys would see that (competitive fire). I tried to be like that. That was my goal.”
On Gil walking away from the money:
“That surprised me a little because he’s entitled to that money. He was legitimately injured. But I’m not that surprised. People don’t realize it, but most guys really don’t play the game because of money. And it drives most guys crazy when they’re injured and can’t earn their money. I know it bothered Gil. That’s why he came back as a reliever last season instead of having surgery. That was his decision, and I think he did a pretty good job for us.”
On the friendly competition between the two:
“In 2008, I was following him (in the rotation) and we would compete against one another. It was that way at the start of 2009, but then he got hurt.”
On Gil working on his golf game in retirement: “Yeah, but he probably still won’t be able to beat me.”