Ricky Romero can laugh about it now, his disastrous 2012, as if it were a time in his life he barely recognizes.
He can handle the good-natured ribbing of new teammate Mark Buehrle, who asked Romero during their first bullpen session if he had walked anybody yet.
Time and off-season surgery have healed the wounds of last season and Romero says he’s looking forward to a brighter 2013.
“I think at some point you’ve got to forget about it. You can’t sit there and dwell on it. It’s done, it’s over.”
This season Romero is no longer in the spotlight, bumped from the top of the Blue Jays’ rotation to the bottom by the acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Buehrle. But the left-hander from East L.A. is still under pressure to prove last year was the anomaly in his four-year career, that he still deserves a spot among the game’s elite hurlers.
Ask Romero, though, and he’ll tell you the pressure never changes because he worries only about his own expectations. The whole idea of an “ace” is a media construct, he says. Each starter pitches every fifth day, no matter where you fall in the rotation. No one player can carry a team.
Romero says the biggest misconception of his struggles was that they were the result of him buckling under the pressure of being the 28-year-old leader of a young staff. He says he felt no more pressure than in any other year.
“I put that kind of pressure on myself ever since I was young, because I work hard,” he said. “I was putting pressure on myself because I wanted to do good and I wanted to give my team a chance to win the game.”
Romero admits that last year felt “uncontrollable,” at times. He battled his command from opening day, struggling to locate all of his pitches and falling behind almost every batter. The numbers are ghastly. He led the league with 105 walks while posting a 5.77 earned-run average, worst among major-league starters.