TEMPE, Ariz. -- A stiff back delayed Gil Meche's first Cactus League start until the Royals' fifth game on Sunday, but he's feeling better now.

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Meche pitched one inning and gave up three runs on four hits in the Royals' 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

"I only threw one inning and I felt like I threw three -- 37 pitches wasn't exactly the goal I wanted," Meche said. "But it was good to get out there again."

His lower back problem kicked in about a week to 10 days ago, he explained, and he couldn't get loose until he worked with a physical therapist.

"I've been battling it a little bit. But the last four or five days have been good," Meche said. "That's why I kind of backed off in camp. ... I'd just been feeling some stiffness here and there and got some good work to get it out of there. My bullpen session two or three days ago went great so today was no problem."

Meche gave up a two-run single to Mike Napoli and a RBI single to Terry Evans after getting two strikes on both of them.

"It's going to be a long summer, Gil!" a fan bellowed.

Well, let's not go that far.

"It was not the outcome I wanted," Meche said. "Today was a good test, throwing that many pitches in one inning. At least now I know the back's fine and I'm getting everything sharp and making pitches."

Manager Trey Hillman said that Meche made more pitches than the Royals wanted, but he got through it.

"He wasn't real sharp, but the ball got out of his hand real good. He had a good angle and, obviously, he spun it good. He just wasn't sharp with his command," Hillman said.

Royals first baseman Billy Butler was taken out of the game after wandering past second base and into an out after Mike Jacobs singled in the fourth inning. But that wasn't the reason.

Butler had been drilled on the left hand by a pitch earlier in the inning and it started to swell.

"It's smarter not to play through it because you don't know what it is. It's painful right now," Butler said. "We'll see how it goes, maybe I'll be in there tomorrow."