CLEARWATER, FLA. - Brian Burke was looking for truculence in his Maple Leafs and never got it.
Ricky Romero is hoping to have more luck in the Blue Jays quest for arrogance.
Romero, the ‘ace’ of the Jays staff and their opening day starter (April 5 in Cleveland), had an abbreviated final tuneup Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies as a brief shower limited his outing to two innings.
Romero threw an additional two innings in the indoor cages at Bright House Field before launching into the expectations the Jays have placed on themselves for the 2012 season.
“Our team’s special,” he said when the question turned to his own leadership qualities. “I feel like everyone is a leader in their own way. I told you this at the start of spring training, it’s a little different feel. I feel like we’re bringing a little different attitude in a good way.
“We’re arrogant and we know that we can win. I think that’s good qualities to have when you’re out there playing.”
It may seem odd to use the word arrogant given that this Jays team has not won a thing, not even had a sniff, but Romero believes it’s something they have and hopefully will provide them with an edge. Where does that arrogance come from? The arrogance of youth?
“I think it comes from, you know, honestly, I’m sick of going home in October and I think those guys (his teammates) are too,” he said. “We see the talent around. We see the young guys, the way they carry themselves, the Lawrie’s, the J.P.’s (Arencibia) and we believe.
“I think when we’re out there we play with that confidence the way that you should play the game, that ‘I’m going to kick your ass’ attitude every time. I think that’s a great attitude to have and we feel like nothing is going to get in our way.”
It’s the edge that teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox always exude. It comes from winning championships and being in the running every season.
“Absolutely. The Yankees and Red Sox are some of the best,” he said. “And the Phillies, they know they’re going to win year in and year out. Just the way they carry themselves, I want that to be my team and I think we’re ready.”
Last season, June 20 to be exact, frustration and the desire to win reached the boiling point within Romero when following a 2-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves, Romero jumped on the lack of offence the team was receiving at the time.
“We can’t rely on (Jose) Bautista, we can’t rely on (Adam) Lind (for all the offence),” Romero said in Atlanta. “We’ve got to get somebody else to step up and get on base and drive ’em in.
“Those guys are getting pitched around. Everyone’s got to step up or else we’re not going to keep winning ball games, we’re going to keep losing ball games like this. This team doesn’t revolve around one or two guys. Everyone’s got to put in their part.”
It was a message that Romero felt needed to be made even if it rankled some of his teammates.
“I talked to me team about it and they understood what I said and no one took offence to that,” Romero recalled. “I think this team gets it. They know what we’re out for.
“Every single one of these guys will tell you that this team can do some special things. I hate watching the playoffs at home. I want to be part of it. I think the city of Toronto deserves it and this team, I think, is going to be ready.”
God knows the fans of the various pro franchises back home deserve something to cheer, anything.
Burke and the boys have failed to deliver for 31/2 years and running.
Maybe arrogance wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Truculence? That one hasn’t worked out so well.
DOC IS ALL CLASS
The ghost of Roy Halladay doesn’t haunt the Blue Jays every day but there is an occasional sighting.
Halladay was on the mound for the Phillies on Saturday before passing showers blew him away.
Afterwards, the former Jays’ ace was one of the topics touched on by current Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero.
“I got two good innings in and finished up with two more in the bullpen,” Romero said of his abbreviated day of work. “The first thing I asked was: ‘Is Halladay done?’ If he’s done then I’m done. Obviously he knows what he’s doing and he was finishing off in the cage.”
Later when team leadership was brought up it was suggested that Romero is more interactive with his teammates than Halladay was. Romero, though, rose to Halladay’s defence.
“I remember when I threw one of my best game’s in New York, a complete game, he was one of the first guys that texted me,” Romero said. “He said: ‘Congratulations man, I saw your game.’ When I signed my contract he was one of the first that texted me and said: ‘Congrats, you deserve it.’ It’s little stuff like that that people don’t see and don’t know. It’s something that I appreciate a lot.”
Blue Jays 8, Phillies 5
- A brief shower interrupted play after the second inning, sending both Ricky Romero and Roy Halladay to the showers.
- In his two innings, Romero didn’t allow a hit and struck out two.
- Romero was due to pitch five innings and threw two additional innings in the indoor cages.
- The Jays touched Halladay for two runs in the second, including - solo homer by Edwin Encarnacion.
- RF Jose Bautista hit a solo homer off David Herndon in the fifth.
- INF Luis Valbuena hit a two-run homer that cleared the fence, the grass slope, hit the walkway and bounded out of the stadium.