Romero's time to alter mechanics came and went
Left-hander couldn't implement changes in spring, prompting his demotion to Minors
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays didn't attempt to alter Ricky Romero's mechanics on the mound until this spring, but in reality it's an idea that had been floated around since last season.
Toronto's left-hander was optioned to Class-A Dunedin on Tuesday night as the club attempts to make a series of adjustments with his delivery.
The hope was that Romero would be able to implement the changes prior to the start of the regular season, but the Blue Jays simply ran out of time to get everything done. Perhaps the work should have started sooner but there was some hesitation by the coaching staff.
"I think it has been bounced around at times, definitely last year," pitching coach Pete Walker said of the altered mechanics. "I think any time you have the success he had -- in 2011 he had similar mechanics -- you hesitate making changes, or offering to make changes.
"But considering the year, the full body of work, where he was physically as well, I think it was definitely time for the change ... I think he realizes he needs to make the change and it's something we're all in agreement that needs to be done."
The conversations about Romero's delivery began last year but there was never a formal meeting to address the issue. The problem was that the Blue Jays didn't want to have Romero make the adjustments during the middle of a season.
The changes were further delayed this spring because the Blue Jays wanted to see how Romero responded to the offseason treatment in both of his knees. Romero dealt with tendinitis last year and the club wasn't sure just how much that affected a year in which he went 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA.
Romero had performed well in the past with his current mechanics and the hope was that he could reach that level of performance again without making the adjustments. When it became apparent during Spring Training that wasn't going to be the case, a decision had to be made.
The Blue Jays began making the changes approximately two weeks into camp -- not mid-March as the club previously claimed. The problem is that if the altered mechanics were implemented earlier it's possible Romero's demotion could have been avoided, and there appears to be a level of regret about that fact within the clubhouse.
"I wish I had started it earlier, that we had started a little bit earlier," said Walker, who was the bullpen coach last year before taking over as pitching coach this season. "There's no doubt. But he was also in a position with the knees and some things, it's kind of like you want to see how he feels and if that had something to do with the way things went last year.
"But we saw the same inconsistencies after a few weeks that we were seeing last year. I think at that point it was definitely time to do it. Had I started it earlier, there's a possibility he could be ready to break."
Romero received the day off on Wednesday as he attempts to come to grips with his current situation. When he's ready, the Los Angeles native will report to the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin to begin working with Minor League instructors Dane Johnson and Rick Langford.
The goal is to have Romero pitch with his hips more square to the plate. He has a tendency to throw across his body, with his front foot falling off to the side. It's a directional issue and one that causes problems with his command.
To date, most of the work has centered around the lower half of his body, but that will now be expanded to the upper half as well. When Romero moves east-to-west with his frame and not north-to-south, his arm slot also has a tendency to drop and there isn't a proper finish to each pitch.
"It's upper body and lower body working as one," Walker said. "He spent a lot of time working on his lower half direction and now we'll spend an equal amount of time working on the upper half and making sure everything is in unison.
"I think it is easier for him to do it off the Major League field. When you're making adjustments like that and you're not getting the consistency you want, it's very difficult to do facing Major League hitters and it can be frustrating."