Ricky Romero made his first Triple-A start since being demoted back to the minors by the Blue Jays and looked very much like the pitcher who’s 1-15 with a 7.60 ERA in the big leagues since last June.
Romero failed to make it out of the fourth inning, coughing up six runs on 10 hits, and walked five batters while recording zero strikeouts. It was a complete disaster of a start.
Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker was asked about the terrible performance and gave an excuse-filled response to Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun:
I think anytime anybody has returned from the big leagues to the minor leagues it’s always a letdown. Those Triple-A hitters can swing the bat. I mean, there’s a lot of good players down there and I’m sure most major leaguers can attest to that. When they go down for the first time or when they’re first sent down when they’re in the big leagues, it’s always a little bit of a letdown. Mentally you go out there and you think you can just go out there and do what you need to do but they swing the bat and they can put you in some tough situations.
Again, Romero is 1-15 with a 7.60 ERA in the majors since last June. His being terrible at Triple-A isn’t about “a letdown” or Triple-A hitters being amazing.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.