June 21, 2012
At least Jays have Romero
By Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency
MILWAUKEE - A fly on the wall in the visiting manager’s office at the Miami Marlins spiffy new stadium might catch Jays manager John Farrell ‘Tebowing’ prior to filling in his lineup card.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to find Farrell on his knees thanking god that he could write the name of Ricky Romero in as his starting pitcher for Friday’s game against Miami.
The past three games against the Brewers, Farrell penciled in his starters as Henderson Alvarez, Jesse Chavez and Joel Carreno (Monday through Wednesday). The results were that Henderson allowed six runs over four innings, Chavez four runs in 22/3 innings and Carreno five runs in three innings. For those who are mathematically challenged his starters totalled 92/3 innings over the three games and allowed 15 runs.
Thanks to a six home run game on Tuesday, the Jays managed to win one of the three.
But now Farrell gets to go with his ‘ace’ even though Romero’s performance this season has been somewhat rocky despite his 7-1 record.
Still, when things get tough, a team looks to its leaders to not only pick up the slack, but in the Jays case, it will be looking for Romero to go deep into his start and give the bullpen a much-needed night off.
Romero, however, doesn’t quite look at it that way.
While acknowledging that a wrecking ball whistled through the rotation and knocked three of the team’s starters out of commission, the prized left-hander would rather approach his start in a low-key manner.
“I don’t put any added pressure into any of that,” Romero said about assuming more of a leadership role. “It’s unfortunate the stuff that’s gone on here. It’s pretty much unheard of having them go down like that.
“But I’ve just got to continue doing what I’ve been doing.”
At 27, Romero is older than all the other starters but Chavez. However, he has made the most big league starts. As the No. 1 starter in the rotation, he has added responsibilities that go beyond wins and losses.
While Romero can’t wave a magic wand and bring the three injured starters back, he can offer a shoulder for the struggling Alvarez, who is 0-4 in his last seven starts, to lean on. He’s done that.
“I’ve been talking to Henderson and will continue to talk to him and kind of mentor him through this,” Romero said. “I know he’s not pitching the way he wants to pitch right now. I just let him know that he’s got to stay within himself and stuff like that. Anything that I can do to help him and the rest of the guys that get a chance to start (I’ll do). I’ll continue to go out there and lead by example and if they have any questions, I’m always free.”
The best teacher, though, continues to be the school of hard knocks. You can have all the coaching and all the mentoring but when you’re on the mound, you’re all alone.
“I know over the past few years I’ve learned on my own,” Romero said. “Like I said, it’s unfortunate for out staff but now is the time that we’ve got to continue to grow together and become even tighter.”
Given the state of the rotation, will it be hard for him to stay within himself as he’s been preaching to Alvarez? Is it not the natural thing in such a situation to go out and try to carry too much of the load?
“No, not really. It’s not difficult at all,” Romero replied. “I know what I’m capable of and my team knows what I’m capable of. I’m not going to put any pressure on myself, like I’ve got to go nine innings every time.”
The ripple effects of the injuries to Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison are also felt by the hitters. If the Jays are going to give up more runs, then the offence had better score more runs to avoid a complete free fall.
“It always hurts when you lose guys in your starting rotation,” Jose Bautista said. “We’ve got to come through as an offensive group and put up a couple more runs than usual and hopefully that’s a good enough cushion for the guys that are filling in.”
In the three games in Milwaukee, Bautista and company slammed 10 homers and scored 19 runs. They did their job.
On Friday, it’s up to Romero to do his.