NEW YORK -- Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero made his Minor League season debut on Saturday night for Class A Advanced Dunedin, and it was a success. The left-hander held the Brevard County Manatees to one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out four without issuing a walk. Romero recorded 15 groundouts against zero flyouts.
Romero spent the first month of the season working on his mechanics. The Blue Jays were attempting to have him take a more direct line to the plate and avoid pitching across his body as much as he had done in the past.
The goal was to have Romero work on those issues in bullpen sessions and simulated games before moving to a more competitive environment where there's a danger of adrenaline taking over and erasing progress.
"I haven't seen it firsthand, but I've seen some video and things look good," pitching coach Pete Walker said. "His direction looks good, arm action is good. I think it's an adjustment he was eager to make, which is great, and I think it comes down to him wanting to make the adjustment. He did, and I think he's happy where he's at right now."
Toronto's former No. 1 starter has been working with roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.
The changes were first implemented during Spring Training, and the initial hope was that they could be made in time for the start of the regular season, but that was not the case.
Once it was clear that Romero wasn't going to make the 25-man roster, there wasn't a sense of urgency in getting him ready. The Blue Jays wanted to take a patient approach and ensure the new delivery becomes locked into Romero's muscle memory so it's not something they'll have to worry about in the future.
"I think in the early going, we were hoping it would be a quick fix, but it took a little bit of time, which is fine," Walker said. "I think he feels good where he is right now, getting away from everything, and just down there working on it and knowing there's no pressure on him to perform in a Major League setting was good. I'm looking forward to the results today and looking forward to seeing him up here."
Walker said the plan for Romero in the future will ultimately be set by general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office. It's possible the left-hander will continue to work through his issues at Dunedin, but he could slowly ascend through the Minor League levels.