LAKELAND — It was not one of Ricky Romero’s most memorable days, but still one that might pay off down the line.
Romero’s early work this spring has been in trying to further develop his sinking fastball and the Detroit Tigers saw a steady diet of them Tuesday. The good news is that every ball the Tigers hit was on the ground. The bad news was that five of them found their way through the infield, leading to a four-run, 2 1/3 inning outing.
“There were a lot of groundballs and a lot of them just found the holes,” said Romero. “I’m a competitor and I want to come straight out of the chute, sharp as a knife. I wasn’t able to do that today. I’ve got to get back to work.”
Romero also walked two men to compound his troubles.
“I hate walks. Walks have caused trouble for me in the past and it’s definitely something I want to clean up this year.”
If this had been a regular-season game, Romero could easily have muted the damage by going to his lethal changeup as an out-pitch.
“The changeup is always there,” he said. “It’s one of those things, especially in spring when I know it’s pretty good I know if I sit there and throw changeups, most of the time I could get out of the inning.
“But you’re trying to work on things. Today I was working on my sinker so, even though I hate giving up runs, I can live with what I did today.”
Romero is still the logical choice to be the Opening Day starter on April 1 against the Twins in Toronto, though Farrell and his staff have not made a firm decision on that subject.
“We want to get through the rotation no less than once and possibly twice,” he said. “We’re in no hurry to do that. Guys know where they stack up internally, to a certain extent but we’re not a in a rush to name an Opening Day starter.
“That’s going to come in due time. The pitchers in consideration for it will have ample time to set their sights on that. But it’s still four weeks away.”
Romero isn’t at all shy about expressing his desire for that assignment.
“If it does happen — and I hope it does — then it would be really special,” said Romero. “If it happens, it happens. I have no control over the decision. If it happens, I’ll be ready for it.”