It was only a year ago that Ricky Romero started the season on Opening Day as the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Now, whether the lefty can even stick as the No. 5 starter in the upcoming season is up for debate.
Yes, a lot has changed for both Romero and the Blue Jays seemingly overnight, but that’s what putting up the worst season by any major league starter will do for the 28-year old.
The team’s rotation is rebuilt from the top, and while the team will undoubtedly give Romero the longest of leashes as he has $22.5 million dollars coming to him over the next three years, a repeat of the nightmare that was 2012 may force the team’s hands otherwise.
So, there’s a lot riding on the line for Romero in ths coming season.
Much of how well he’ll do will depend on his health. Fortunately, Romero seems to have one part of that taken care of, as minor elbow surgery took care of tendinitis that apparently got so bad that he couldn’t even rotate it. I’d say that might affect his performance, even if the starter never admitted to it last season.
Romero’s knees though, are another story.
Sure, his elbow now feels “100 times better”, but the chronic knee tendinitis are still there, as the pitcher is preparing for his new role at the back end of the Blue Jays’ rotation. Romero tried to treat it in the off-season with platelet-rich plasma injections, but according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, the treatment has had “mixed results”.
PRP injections are by no means a new thing, but for Blue Jays fans, the last notable mention of the treatment probably came when Jesse Litch received the same shots, and had to have emergency to clean out an infection that it unintentionally caused.
It isn’t that bad with Romero, but the problem is that the treatment didn’t really alleviate the discomfort as it was supposed to. If it continues on this path, Romero’s status for could quickly change, as manager John Gibbons said that the team will “shut him down or lighten the load” if the lefty’s knees are “barking”.
The manager suggested that at this point, the only thing that Romero can do is “grin and bear it”, and that the knee problem is “probably going to bother [him during his] whole career.”
Not exactly the most reassuring thing for a pitcher trying to bounce back from his worst season, yes? 2013 is going to yield a lot of serious questions about Romero’s status with the Blue Jays going forward, and this might be the most pressing question yet.