It was more tough news this weekend for the Blue Jays’ one-time ace, Ricky Romero, as he was released by the Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League. This, of course, also means that his time in the San Francisco Giants organization, where he’s tried to mount a comeback after being released by the Blue Jays in the spring of 2015, has come to an end.
Romero started four games for Sacramento this season, allowing 16 hits, 11 earned runs, and walking 16 in just 14.2 innings. They’re ugly numbers, and not really worth dwelling on. In fact, even bothering to commemorate Romero’s unceremonious release seems almost cruel at this point, doesn’t it? After all, we all know the Romero story, don’t we?
Well, that’s actually the thing that’s sparked this piece. Because I’m not sure everybody does quite know the Romero story.
With apologies for singling out the folks Jays Journal, who are surely not the only ones, here’s how their post on his release by Sacramento describes the end of Romero’s Blue Jays tenure:
In 2012, things continued to unravel for the California native, as he battled knee injuries and finished 9-14, and his ERA ballooned to 5.77 over 181 innings pitched. There have been conflicting reports of Romero pitching through injuries that season. Romero developed mechanical flaws that he has never been able to correct, and he’s been unable to regain the form that saw him as an All-Star in 2011.
Thaaaaaaaaaaat’s not quite how I’d put it.
For a long time fans were mystified by what happened to Romero. He suddenly just couldn’t throw strikes, and many thought it was more mental than physical. A theory I remember kicking around at the time, myself, was that Rays then-manager Joe Maddon had exposed the fact that Romero, even at the best of times, had struggled to get left-handers out, and as he continued to be fed more and more left-handed batters, his numbers plummeted. Others, like noted current manager of the shitbag Red Sox, John Farrell, felt the answer was more simple. After a tough July 2012 start, Farrell famously told reporters, “What I’d like to see from Ricky is just to get back to the basics. Where’s the tough kid from East L.A.?”
To be fair, I don’t know that Farrell knew at the time that what Romero was going through was far from more mental than physical. And that his toughness should have never been in doubt.
Last summer, with fans extraordinarily dumbly making comparisons between Romero’s breakdown and a then-slumping Marcus Stroman, Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling laid it all out there:
Romero's knees essentially fell apart. He always kept it to himself, but he pitched through incredible pain for a very long time.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
Pitching hurt clearly impacted his performance; primarily, his ability to throw strikes. But Ricky's a stubborn guy. So, he kept pitching.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
When he finally accepted the inevitable and had his knees looked at, doctors didn't understand how he had been walking, let alone pitching.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
His kneecaps were dislocated; there was no tendon attaching them to other bones. The kneecaps essentially just floated there.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
Unfortunately for Romero, he'd done too much damage by pitching on those shredded knees. Doctors tried plenty, but it was too late.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
At one point, Romero tried an absurdly painful stem cell treatment; they drew bone marrow from his pelvis & shot it into his knees. No luck.— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) June 20, 2016
That is the story of Ricky Romero and the end of his Blue Jays career.
Just so we’re clear.