Ricky Romero’s big fall from grace carries on.
According to Shi Davidi of Canada’s Sportsnet, the left-hander has officially been optioned to High-A Dunedin. Romero allowed six hits, three walks and three earned runs over 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates. He wound up posting a 6.23 ERA, 2.08 WHIP and 8/10 K/BB ratio in 13 total spring frames.
Romero will try to right the ship down on the farm. J.A. Happ, meanwhile, will take his rotation spot.
Romero registered an exceptional (and somewhat ace-like) 2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 178/80 K/BB ratio across 225 innings for the Jays in 2011. But the 28-year-old southpaw had a 5.77 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and 124/105 K/BB ratio in 181 innings last season.
Minor elbow surgery, plasma injections in both knees, and mechanical adjustments were supposed to address whatever ailed Ricky Romero during his disastrous 2012 season, but the Blue Jays left-hander is still struggling.
Pitching in a minor-league game yesterday Romero walked five batters, struck out zero, and allowed four runs in 2.1 innings. He also has a 7.27 ERA and more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) in four starts in major-league games this spring, looking an awful lot like the guy who went 1-13 with a 7.35 ERA in his final 17 starts last season.
Following the game general manager Alex Anthopoulos answered all sorts of questions about Romero’s status without really saying anything definitive, but after previously ruling out a demotion to the minors he seemingly left that door open a bit this time:
We haven’t talked about it at all. Obviously we evaluate it start by start. We’ve said we have our five starters, he’s one of our five starters. As we go through it, the first conversation I’ve had about it is right now. I’ll talk to Gibby, talk to Pete, we’ll talk to the player as well. We haven’t had any change of plans, the plans are still the same but just like anything else you’re constantly evaluating.
At some point you can’t just keep trotting Romero out there every fifth day to walk everyone and/or get his brains beat in, especially since the Blue Jays have serious playoff aspirations this season and no shortage of rotation depth.
After finishing sixth in the AL with a 2.92 ERA in 2011, Ricky Romero endured a nightmare campaign last year in which he struggled to the tune of a 5.77 ERA and 124/105 K/BB ratio over 181 innings. While the drop-off was alarming, it was somewhat explained when the southpaw had an elbow cleanup in October and received platelet-rich plasma injections in both of his knees. Now he’s hoping for a big bounce back year.
According to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, Romero threw off a mound several times before reporting to Jays’ camp and can already feel the difference with his elbow.
“It feels 100 times better,” said Romero, who avoided the DL in 2012. “I wasn’t able to rotate [the elbow] at one point, I was so sore at the end of the year. That’s when I decided we should get it checked out. Right now, it feels great, pretty much back to how it should feel.
“The knees have been a work in progress. I think that’s been the toughest part, that tendinitis doesn’t go away easily. We’ve been hitting it hard every day, I’m here getting treatment, doing the small things, foam-rolling, stuff like that, just to kind of get them ready every day.”
Encouraging news for a team who clearly sees an opening in the AL East. The Blue Jays strengthened their rotation over the winter by adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, but getting a healthy and effective Romero back would be the equivalent of another significant offseason addition.