DUNEDIN, Fla.--Of all the things John Farrell can spend his spring worrying about, his staff ace appears not to be one of them.
In stark contrast to last spring when he struggled and scuffled in the pre-season before getting it all together after opening day, Blue Jays lefthander Ricky Romero has been almost if not quite perfect in his opening Grapefruit League outings this spring.
That includes Friday's four hitless innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, a sterling performance in which Romero walked leadoff man Desmond Jennings twice but otherwise handcuffed the rest of the Tampa lineup in facing just one batter over the minimum. In nine innings this spring, Romero has yet to allow a run and has given up only two hits.
That's pretty darn dominant.
It appears that Romero is growing more confident by the day not only with his status as the club's No. 1 starting pitcher, but also a key leader in the youthful Jays clubhouse.
With the rest of the Jays rotation still being worked out - Brandon Morrow looks set at No. 2, while Henderson Alvarez, Dustin McGowan and Brett Cecil jostle for the other three spots - Romero's sturdy start to the spring is even more meaningful to Farrell, the club's manager. All spring, Farrell has spoken of the need for the rotation to contribute more good innings this season compared to last, and like Roy Halladay once upon a time, Romero is giving the rest of the staff a standard to work towards.
After walking Jennings on four pitches to start the game, Romero settled right down and quickly worked his way through the Tampa lineup, hitting the low 90s on the radar gun. He struck out four Rays and three 51 pitches in all, 29 for strikes.
Not much more you can ask for with the season still three weeks away. Romero is the leading light in what has so far been an impressive spring for the Jays.