Ricky Romero #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts to a run scored against the New York Yankees during MLB action at the Rogers Centre September 29, 2012 in Toronto, Ont. Abelimages/Getty Images/AFP
That wasn’t a breath of fresh air escaping Rogers Centre, i was a sigh of relief coming from Ricky Romero.
Relief that finally, his season from hell had officially come to an end.
Romero made his 32nd and final start of his 2012 season yesterday afternoon for the Blue Jays against the New York Yankees and it would have been nice to be able to report that in the end the baseball gods supplied him with a magical send off. Instead they gave him another boot in the ass.
Romero’s season ended in the third inning - and not because of the Yankees clubbing him to death.
With one out, bases loaded, and a 2-2 count against Andruw Jones, Romero pushed off the rubber and landed awkwardly as the pitch sailed high.
Manager John Farrell and trainer Happ Day came out on the run and after a brief conversation and a couple of warm-up pitches, Romero declared he all was right and he stayed in the game.
He came back to strike out Jones and with his next pitch got out of the inning as Eduardo Nunez hit a line drive rocket that was gloved by second baseman Adeiny Hechavarria for the third out.
Romero left the field limping and it was no surprise that he didn’t come out for the fourth and was replaced by Canada’s Shawn Hill. The Jays announced he had soreness in his left knee and was taken out for precautionary reasons.
It was another no-decision for Romero in a game where the Jays hung a 3-2 victory against the Yankees to post wins in two of the first three games of the series.
Andy Pettitte, in his third start back for the Yankees since he fractured his left ankle, suffered the loss while the win went to Georgetown’s Shawn Hill. The Jays broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth on a RBI double by Adeiny Hechavarria.
Romero’s final stats gave him a 9-14 record with a 5.77 ERA. Over 181 innings, he allowed 198 hits, walked 105, and struck out 124.
“Ricky was suffering from some discomfort in that left kneecap area so it was more precautionary to remove him at that point in time,” Farrell said. “It was against his wishes, he still wanted to stay in the game.”
Farrell added that Romero felt no discomfort in his knee area prior to the game.
“It was the one pitch where he came off the mound much different than any other pitch he threw and that’s why we went to the mound right away,” Farrell said.
Following the game, Romero was taking treatment and was not available for comment.
In his previous start against Baltimore, Romero broke a string of 13 consecutive losses, it was a 9-5 Jays victory in which he was hardly lights out as he allowed four earned runs on eight hits over five innings.
The best thing that can be said about Romero is that he made every start and persevered when the going got so tough.
“It’s an accomplishment any time you go through a Major League season,” said Farrell. “Some years work out differently than others.
“I think it’ll become more clear as he progresses through the off-season. A time to reflect on the challenges encountered, how he’s worked through them, things that worked well, things that might not have worked well, said Farrell.
"Regardless of position, every player goes through a weeding out process in their routine...that’s part of developing as a player and you continue to learn through the challenges you go through. I fully believe still that he will benefit from the challenges he faced this year.”
For Romero, that realization may take time. The initial benefit is that his year is over and he can now relax, unwind, and get his mind off the game.
"There’s going to be a period of active rest, so to speak, where we’re not worried about the game," said Farrell. "We’re giving our mind a break, and then there’ll be a time when things start to click back in and they start to re-engage as they go through their off-season workout routine. That’s kind of the normal cycle for any player, whether they’re coming off a successful year or one where there’s been challenges.”
Farrell was then asked what he liked about Romero’s season, if anything.
“He hasn’t made excuses,” Farrell replied. “He hasn’t pointed to reasons other than his own performance or things he has control over as the reasons why. He hasn’t pointed the finger at anyone.
“He hasn’t used anything as a scapegoat and he’s confronted every challenge along the way and I think that speaks to the person, and I think that’s exactly why he’s been so successful in the past, combined with a lot of talent, and it’s the same reason that he’ll come out of this and regain that form he’s previously shown.”