Hours after manager John Gibbons had confirmed to media that Ricky Romero would remain in the Blue Jays' starting rotation, the club announced that the struggling lefthander was being optioned to Class-A Dunedin of the Florida State League.
Romero had been the Jays' opening day starter in 2012, but had slumped horribly, finishing the season with a 9-14 record and a 5.77 ERA, losing 12 of his final 13 decisions. Among 36 qualifiers for the ERA title -- more than 162 innings pitched -- Romero finished last in all three categories of ERA, WHIP (1.67) and WAR (-1.7).
All winter and throughout spring training the Jays had maintained their confidence in Romero as the team's fifth starter, but GM Alex Anthopoulos hastily called an emergency staff meeting after Romero had pitched 4-1/3 innings vs. the Pirates, allowing six hits and three walks. The decision was made to send last year's ace to the low minors. The meeting was attended by Anthopoulos, Gibbons, pitching coach Pete Walker and AGM Tony LaCava.
The club had assured Romero all winter and at a pre-spring training meeting that he would be in the rotation, however he has spent the last 10 days attempting to incorporate an adjustment to his delivery that Walker maintains will benefit his health in the long run. That was the key that allowed them to make the move with a clear conscience.
"We ran out of time in making the adjustment," Anthopoulos said of the reason that the change was made.
Romero, 28, has $23.1 million guaranteed remaining on his contract, through 2015. The GM said there is no timeline for Romero's return, but that the necessary adjustmenst of a more direct line to the plate would have to be completed before a return could even be contemplated.
Anthopoulos immediately called lefthander J.A. Happ to notify him that Romero had been optioned and that he would become the fifth starter heading into what is expected to be a contending season for the Blue Jays.