Romero searches for answers after rough outing

Romero searches for answers after rough outing

Romero searches for answers after rough outing
TORONTO -- How and when will Ricky Romero snap out of his current funk? That is a question everyone is trying to solve in Blue Jays land, but there are no concrete answers.

No one is more upset than Romero, which was evident following Monday's outing, when he surrendered eight runs for the second consecutive start, allowed a season-high 11 hits, and lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Romero was visibly upset and was unable to provide answers to what has been plaguing him. Toronto's ace left-hander, a year after setting career highs in nearly every statistical category en route to his first All-Star Game, will take a 5.35 ERA -- the sixth highest mark in the American League -- into his next start.

Relief pitcher Jason Frasor has been through his own struggles, and feels for Romero, but also believes it is only a matter of time before he rounds back into form.

"It's very frustrating, I've been there, too," Frasor said. "We have all struggled at one point. His head is probably spinning on the mound, and that's no way to pitch. There is always so much to think about. It can become overwhelming out there.

"I'll be 35 next month and I'm still trying to figure it out. He'll figure it out, there is no doubt in my mind."

Frasor, a nine-year veteran, said that despite how well a pitcher's stuff can feel on a given day, once you get behind in a count, you can start thinking too much, worrying about walking him, and that those are the "complete wrong thoughts to have."

"Once you get on that hill, the smallest hiccup out there can trigger thoughts, and thoughts aren't good," Frasor said. "He has to figure it out, he really does. Maybe he just has to let it rip and see what happens. We need that guy, we need him big time. He's an elite starter and that's why he's so frustrated."

Frasor knows that snapping out of a prolonged stretch of rough outings is easier said than done, but that it comes down to simplifying the game and going back to the basics. See the catcher's sign, and throw the ball.

Manager John Farrell believes the same thing. He said Romero needs to focus from pitch-to-pitch and not worry about the bigger outcome of the game.

Farrell reiterated on Tuesday that there were positives to take from Romero's start, such as his ability to throw first-pitch strikes with more frequency. Farrell felt his stuff was more crisp.

The skipper said that Romero's struggles are not mechanical, but that he will continue to review film, even from last year's strong season.

"This is more about pitching with a conviction and an overall trust that will ultimately lead to improved confidence," Farrell said. "This isn't focusing solely on the end result, and I know this is an end-result game, but for us to get Ricky back to that level of consistent performance, we have to look beneath the linescore."

What Farrell doesn't want Romero doing is worrying about the injuries that have sidelined starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, and feel that he needs to pick up the slack for the rest of the rotation.

"What's important for Ricky is to focus on what he can control," Farrell said. "I would hope Ricky doesn't think he has to do more than go out and take care of his own business."

Farrell said he hasn't looked at giving backup catcher Jeff Mathis a start behind the plate when Romero is on the mound. J.P. Arencibia, who has caught Romero's last 49 games, is not part of the problem, according to the skipper.