Mar 12, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero (24) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Romero on the road to redemption in Toronto Blue Jays spring training

To be completely honest, I did not see this one coming.

Former All-Star and much maligned Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher Ricky Romero has been pitching his tail off this spring. I was skeptical at first (and still am to a certain degree) based on the level of competition. For the most part, Romero has found success pitching against minor league hitters, which he should be used to after struggling in Triple-A for the most part of last season.

However, like most, I just can’t resist a feel good story. Almost everyone (and their mother) is rooting for a comeback from Romero, who turned 29 in November.

Jay Blue, who had the nerve to tell us there was a “cold wind” in Dunedin while the rest of us were stuck in a frozen ice box on Wednesday, provided a report from the first base line at Blue Jays From Away.

Ricky Romero threw four innings and in the first and fourth, he looked very good. In the second and third, he struggled to throw strikes, which, of course, has been his Achilles Heel. That said, he was throwing a 2-seamer at 91-92 mph and got a 4-seamer up to 94 (on the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium radar gun). He also threw a good changeup that he usually kept down very well and a good curveball (which he seemed to not throw when he was called up in September). While it wasn’t a perfect outing, it was still really encouraging.

Jay also told us Romero was bailed out by his defense in the two innings he didn’t have great control.

His last start wasn’t televised but there’s been a noticeable difference to Romero’s delivery this spring, which we already know he’s trying to speed up. Callum Hughson at Mop Up Duty did an excellent recap of Romero’s start from last week and watching the video Romero looks a lot smoother than when he was called up late last year.

John Lott of the National Post recently called Romero “the talk of camp”. In the article, Jays’ manager John Gibbons pointed out that for him, it’s all about Ricky being able to pitch in the strike zone. Gibby even called Romero’s changeup “dynamite”.

Romero isn’t on the 40-man roster but with $7.75 million owed to him this season, the Blue Jays might be tempted to bring him back up for another shot at redemption. I doubt that he breaks camp with the team but if he pitches well during extended spring training or wherever he ends up next, and the Jays are still looking for rotation help, maybe there’s a chance Romero pitches for the Jays in 2014? If that’s the case, Justin Jay will look like a genius.

Tags: Ricky Romero Spring Training Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    Man… I am wanting him soooooo badly to do well. I just don’t know if he has been lucky or really has been good (I haven’t been able to see any games). On one hand he’s getting a good K rate and few hits against him. However he’s been walking a ton of guys :S From what I hear on the FAN, he seems to be inducing weak ground outs but those walks could bite him. I wish I didn’t work during the day so I can see our pitcher’s “stuff” for myself.

    • Michael Wray

      Two words: At Bat

      • Andrew van Laar

        Four words: Getting Married. No Money :P

        • Michael Wray

          haha some sort of priorities you have

    • brad

      I really don’t think walks were his biggest issue. He walks guys…. a lot….. and this is bad. BUT, he walked guys a lot when he was good too. What is one more walk per 9 innings in terms of how much worse he got? it’s not guna add 2 runs to the ERA. The problem was the fact that he couldn’t pitch IN the zone. He got all screwed up because he couldn’t locate his fastball. Any time he threw a strike it was in the middle of the plate….. and hit a mile. It progressed from there…. why would I swing at a curveball when every fastball is a ball or a pitch I can hammer?… ditto for the changeup.

      The reason he has had success in previous years is that those fastballs were on the corners…. and resulted in ground balls…. and if the count got to 2 strikes on well located fastballs, his out pitches had credibility(because he could actually throw a fastball that crossed the plate at the break point of his change and curve…. making it hard to recognize them). That’s what’s happening this spring so far: his fastball is on the corners and inducing weak contact. He’s missing a lot but he’s missing off the plate and walking guys rather than over the heart and giving them doubles…. which is progress at least. Another small control improvement and I think he’ll at least be back to serviceable by mid June

      • Andrew van Laar

        Really good points Brad. Thanks for that :) I think you are right!

  • Jensan

    he has to lose 10 to 15 lbs.

  • Jason Kerr

    It seems like it doesn’t matter how good or bad he does … Happ is making the trip North … Management has so much faith in Happ I’m a little sick to my stomach. I am hoping that Romero’s start against the Tigers will show where he belongs and it’ll give a good sense I think.