To say that Ricky Romero has struggled over the past year and a half would be an understatement.
One of the top pitchers in the American League in 2011, Romero has fallen from the graces of the elite to the depths of the International League.
Since his struggles began, there’s almost nothing he hasn’t had to deal with.
By now, Romero has nothing to lose. He’s going back to the basics in order to try and become successful on the mound once again.
“He’s been through the gantlet of trying to change this and change that and I think he’s just at this point saying let’s go back to where I can compete,” Bisons Manager Marty Brown said following the Bisons double-header on Friday night.
And why not? Romero was one of the top young pitchers in baseball as of a few years ago and knows what it takes to become successful.
He needed to find himself and that’s slowly starting to happen. Romero has found comfort in returning to his old mechanics.
“I think with Ricky right now, he’s learning from each outing but I think it’s more about he feels comfortable right now with where he’s at with his mechanics” Brown said.
“It’s natural” Romero said, “It feels like it’s just me and that’s what I’m going to continue to do”
Some may look at the box score and say that the results still aren’t coming. And while that may be true, the first step to an athlete becoming successful is being mentally into what he’s doing.
Romero wasn’t able to say that while he was battling with his mechanics trying to find himself. He didn’t believe in what people were trying to make him.
He was a pitcher that was lost and displayed zero confidence and with good reason. Romero’s results with the Blue Jays were horrible in 2012 and only got worse to begin 2013.
Romero knew that he was going to have to make some changes so he proposed going back to his old mechanics.
“It was my idea the whole way” Romero said, “Whatever is going to get the job done, that’s what we’re going to stick to”
After a horrible beginning with the Bisons, Romero is finally starting to show some signs of progress.
“I see him getting better each and every time out,” Brown said.
While you can’t see his improvements in the box score, you can see that Romero’s becoming more comfortable on the mound.
His walk numbers are beginning to decrease, his innings are up, and he’s pitching deeper into games.
No one will argue that Romero is anywhere close to returning to the big leagues but his last few starts have at least shown that maybe there’s still some spark in him.
The southpaw retired 11 consecutive batters Friday night versus Lehigh Valley before running into trouble in the 6th.
Romero still has his eyes set on Toronto but is using his time in Buffalo to improve.
“My goal is to get better and to get back up there whenever I have the chance to get back up there but we’ll take it one day at a time” Romero said.
All of these small signs need to be taken as positives. When looking at Romero, we’re now looking at a long-term project rather than a short-term stint in the minors.
And when you get down to it, maybe that was the issue all along. Everyone wanted Romero to return faster than he was actually capable of.
Toronto’s management made the mistake of believing that he could return to his old self with some time in the minors. That simply wasn’t the case.
After blowing up in two starts with the Blue Jays this year, it became pretty obvious that he needed more time in the minors.
Then, after getting torched his first two starts with the Bisons, it became clear that he was going to spend quite a bit of time in Buffalo.
With those realizations made, Romero is now being given the proper amount of time required to remake himself.
“It’s going to take a little bit of work but its baby steps now” Romero said.
The progress isn’t going to be shown in his numbers, at least not for now. His progress will be made by his focus back to the basics, feeling confident in his mechanics and clearing his head of any issues that have plagued him the past few years.
Friday night and his last few starts are a start. While not the best statistical performances, you can tell he’s becoming more comfortable on the mound.
“My mind is at ease right now. What do I have to lose” Romero said.
Now, he just has to keep it up. It’s not going to be quick and it’s going to be a journey.
Time will tell how Romero’s journey ends up as he takes it one small stride at a time.