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Royals’ trusty lefty heads to enemy territory

After last season, Guelph Royals ace pitcher Mel Melehes figured his Intercounty Baseball League career was done.

But not only is he back for another season, he’s going to spend it representing the enemy.

“That’s pretty much what I’m doing,” said Melehes with a laugh on Wednesday morning.

“I don’t know what it’s going to be like.” Melehes, the storied southpaw, has signed to play the 2011 Intercounty Baseball League season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a longtime rival of the Royals.

Guelph is not playing this summer after the team failed to come to terms with the city on a longterm lease at Hastings Stadium.

Shortly after that announcement was made, Maple Leafs owner Jack Dominico called Melehes and started courting him.

Melehes gave it lots of thought before making his decision.

“Change sometimes can be a good thing, and it just got my adrenaline flowing a bit. I decided why not?” said Melehes.

The 34-year-old, who pitched for Greece at the 2004 Olympics, will likely pitch only weekends for the Maple Leafs. His job in sales has him doing a lot of traveling during the week.

Melehes hears that Royals pitcher Brett Lawson is also expected to be a Maple Leaf this year and that Dino Roumel, assistant coach of the Royals last year, will join Toronto as a part-time assistant. Roumel is a former Maple Leafs manager.

Asked what his plans might be next year should Guelph return to IBL play, Melehes says he’s not sure.

“I’d imagine this is going to be my last year, but I’ve also said that for the last three years,” he says.

“I don’t know. It all depends on who’s back and I guess the kind of commitment that ownership is going to show towards the team.”

Royals in 2011

Here is a look at where some of last year’s Royals are expected this season: Jeremy Ware: Kitchener Panthers (IBL); Nathan Grant: Kitchener Panthers (IBL); Jamie Pogue: Sitting out season; Sean Reilly: Barrie Baycats (IBL); Frankie Hare: Barrie Baycats (IBL); Mel Melehes: Toronto Maple Leafs (IBL); Brett Lawson: Toronto Maple Leafs (IBL); Ryan Hart: London Majors (IBL); Chris Stewart: London Majors (IBL); Mark Allen: Royal City Baseball League (Team: Gentlemen); Craig Fairfull: RCBL (Team: Gentlemen); Brian Brown: RCBL (Team: Young Guns).

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