Lewis takes long road to the show

Lewis takes long road to the show

TORONTO -- To say it has been a long road for Blue Jays reliever Rommie Lewis to get to the big leagues would be an understatement.

After spending the better part of the past decade working his way through the Minor League ranks, the 27-year-old southpaw finally got the call on Monday night he was going to the show.

"My dad came up to me last night and said, 'Ever since you were 5 years old, you said you were going to play baseball,'" Lewis said. "All those years [in the Minor Leagues], I now look back on them and they're gone just like that. It's amazing to be here. [It's] a dream come true."

Lewis, who was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft by the Orioles, signed a contract with the Blue Jays on Jan. 27, 2009. He went 4-7 with a 2.86 ERA last year in 45 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. This year, he was 0-1 with a 2.35 ERA in seven relief appearances with Las Vegas.

"Lewis is a kid who pitched outstanding in Spring Training, and he went down to Vegas and did the same thing," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He's one of those guys that if we could have left camp with him, we would have. He wasn't even on the roster, but he pitched well enough to make this team."

"I didn't have any expectations coming into spring," Lewis said. "All I wanted to do was come in and show them what I could do -- throw strikes and get guys out. I'm elated to be here."

While Lewis was on cloud nine upon his arrival to Toronto, things weren't always so warm and fuzzy.

In 2005, Lewis left the Orioles' High Class-A affiliate, Frederick Keys, to battle some personal demons.

"I just had it," Lewis said. "It wouldn't have benefited me to play that year. I was so down in the dumps and involved with a lot of things I shouldn't have been involved in. It was a grind and wasn't any fun. I just had to walk away."

Lewis ended up returning to baseball in 2006 and said that the year away from the game may have saved his career.

"Baseball has been a blast ever since I've come back," Lewis said. "I think that was the best thing I could have done for myself. [It] really cleared my head and got me back on the right track. I've been happy ever since."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.