Left-hander Ricky Romero has been optioned to High-A Dunedin by the Toronto Blue Jays, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Romero has been dealing with a number of issues on the mound and there has been ample debate about whether or not he needs some time in the minor leagues to “work out some issues”. Most expected he’d be sent to Triple-A, if anywhere, but by sending him to Dunedin the team will be able to keep a closer eye on things as their Spring Training facilities are right there.
Romero hasn’t looked good in four Spring starts, posting an 0-1 mark and 7.27 ERA. He’s walked seven with just six strikeouts. He’s been hit hard as well, allowing three home runs. All in just 8.1 IP.
The move is surprising only considering where Romero stood in the public’s eye upon the completion of the 2011 season. He’d just finished a 15-11 season with a career-low 2.92 ERA and 1.138 WHIP. He made the All Star team and was in the Top 10 in AL Cy Young consideration. Romero had signed a five year, $30.1 Million deal with the Blue Jays the previous offseason (a deal which will pay him $7.5M this season and each of the next two, with a $13.1M team option for 2016) and he was immediately performing. The wheels fell off in 2012 for Romero. He fell to 9-14 as his ERA ballooned to 5.77. His control went missing, as he walked a league-high 105 batters (5.2 BB/9). The only solace was that he was consistent, making 32 starts for the Blue Jays for the third season in a row.
No timetable has been offered as to when Romero might return to the Toronto rotation. The team appears willing to let him figure some things out as they do have options to fill the rotation. J.A. Happ was named as the 5th starter initially. He’s shown flashes of ability, including his rookie season in 2009 when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, but he’s also had trouble with being consistent throughout his career. Toronto acquired Happ last summer from the Houston Astros, using him out of both the rotation and bullpen during the final two months of 2012. In 40.1 IP he had 10.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 with a 1.289 WHIP. He’s openly stated that he’d prefer to be a starter so the Blue Jays have to be hoping that he’ll be able to produce at the backend of what should be a strong rotation.