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.