Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Relaxed Romero pushing for opening day start

At this time last year it would have been crazy to assume that Ricky Romero would be in contention to be the Blue Jays opening day starter of 2010, let alone him even being on the roster at that time. What a difference a year makes. After labouring with his command in the minors for four seasons and still having issues in the spring last year, the team concluded he needed more time to develop. Had it not been for former pitching coach Brad Arnsberg prodding the organization to keep him in camp last spring instead of sending him to the minors, he might still be trying to shed the label of "bust."

Arnsberg saw something in Romero that prompted the Jays to make him the 6th pick in the 2005 draft, and just needed a little more time to squeeze it out of him. Under the former Toronto pitching coaches tutelage, the light bulb went off for the southpaw toward the end of spring last season, securing him a spot in the Jays rotation. In his rookie campaign, Romero was dominant for the first half, fashioning a 7-3 record with an ERA of 3.00 in his first 13 starts. He hit a rookie wall midway through July, but still managed to compile a respectable 13-9 record with a 4.30 ERA in 29 starts.

In his three spring training starts this year, Romero has been victorious twice, allowing just one run in 9 innings, striking out and walking 4 batters. His solid maiden campaign in the big leagues, coupled with Roy Halladay being traded in the off season has Romero in a battle with Shaun Marcum to be the opening day starter. It's doubtful even he could have imagined that last spring.