Initial Spring Training results may not matter very much for a majority of players, but for former All-Stars coming off the worst seasons of their career, and who are mired by chronic health problems?
Well, they don’t quite fall into that category as neatly as most.
So I suppose you could say that there will be a fair bit of focus on the results of former Toronto Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero, who has been relegated to the No. 5 spot in the team’s new-look rotation for 2013.
There will be questions asked about his health, and whether he can get his command back, but the answers to those would be relatively simple – the lefty has to get through a couple of good outings, and show that the version of Ricky Romero prior to 2012 is back.
The 28-year old did that right off the bat in his first spring outing on Tuesday…well, at least for one inning, anyway. Romero breezed through his first three outs against the Minnesota Twins, but could not escape trouble in the next frame. After giving up a single Justin Morneau to start the second inning, Romero generated a pair of ground balls, but an infield error on a double play meant that he had to ward off a threat with a man on and two outs.
He did not do so, giving up a two-run homer to Joe Benson, and then walking Brian Dozier before being removed from the game.
Granted, Romero had been using this start to work on his sinker, so more judgement will have to wait until he incorporates the rest of his arsenal. But, the fact that he threw 17 strikes to 19 balls on the day is probably not that the team hoped for, considering one of the main culprits of his downfall in 2012 was his 5.22 BB/9.
Yet, he did get a trio of ground ball outs, so it’s not as through the outing was an overall failure. At best, you could call it a mixed success, as Romero sinker clearly did what he wanted it to at times, even though he couldn’t throw strikes with it consistently.
I’d imagine that the strike count is something that the Blue Jays will be paying close attention to over the rest of Spring Training as an indicator of health, as Romero’s elbow troubles last year – the ones that caused him so much pain that he was unable to rotate it – likely contributed to his missing strike zone in 2012.
Until Romero can show that he can locate it consistently, the questions about his effectiveness will remain.