*Watch Stu Stone’s full interview with former Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero for the latest episode of “Talking Points,” sponsored by Bodog Canada, by clicking on the video above.
August 25, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
For two years after his retirement, former Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero avoided the city of Toronto.
“I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed after the way my career ended,” Romero told Stu Stone in the latest episode of Talking Points, sponsored by Bodog.
A two-time Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays, Romero won 13 or more games in each season from 2009 to 2011 before injuries and control issues abruptly curtailed his career.
It’s heartening to know, however, that many Blue Jays fans these days are remembering him for those stellar early seasons, and Romero has returned to Toronto to become a beloved member of the Blue Jays’ alumni.
And the former All-Star southpaw has been moved by the love he has received from Blue Jays fans, including another warm ovation from the Rogers Centre faithful when his name was announced at Jose Bautista’s Level of Excellence ceremony on August 12.
“I wasn’t expecting to get the ovation I got,” Romero told Stone.
These days, Romero is spending more time at his home in Port Credit, Ont., with his wife Kara Lang, a former Canadian soccer star.
“Coming back and just seeing the love that fans show me time after time after time is amazing,” Romero told Stone. “I love going back. There is a reason why I have a house there [in the Toronto area]. There’s a reason why my wife is Canadian. I just love everything about Canada and going back to Toronto and being part of the community . . . I really do. When I go back there . . . it feels like home.”
Romero, of course, follows the current Blue Jays very closely and he recently shared some of his thoughts about them with Stone:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the plate
“He’s the same guy he was in 2021 when he was having a great year, so nothing has changed there,” said Romero. “It’s just more of, OK, how do we execute the game plan? How do we execute the approach? That’s the biggest thing with Vladdy right now. It’s not necessarily him going out there and chasing numbers . . . It’s, ‘Vladdy just be you, man. Have a game plan and execute it. And if you do that. I mean, we already know how talented you are. You are going to be just fine.’”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the field
“The one thing that I do respect about Vladdy is that when he’s playing defence [at first base], he’s playing the crap out of defence,” said Romero. “You see the raw emotion. Because there are guys that when it isn’t going well at the plate, they take it out on the field.”
Blue Jays’ bullpen depth
Romero lauds the job the entire bullpen has done, including Trevor Richards, Yimi Garcia, Genesis Cabrera, Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson, Jordan Hicks and Jordan Romano.
“The cool thing is they’re all different,” said Romero of the Blue Jays relievers. “Jordan Hicks is throwing 103 mile per hour bowling balls . . . and Genesis Cabrera is coming from the left side at like 97-98. And Tim Mayza is coming in, sinking the ball nasty with the good slider. It’s just they have so many options right now . . . I think it’s a good problem to have for the Toronto Blue Jays when you have depth like that in the bullpen.”
How can the Blue Jays ensure they will make the playoffs?
Romero is confident the Blue Jays will claim one of the American League Wild-Card spots, but they will need to take advantage of the 15-game stretch against under .500 teams that begins tonight against the Cleveland Guardians.
“It’s got all of the right matchups for you on paper to say, ‘We can come out and completely go on a great streak here.’ Because that’s what we’ve been waiting for,” said Romero, of the Blue Jays’ next 15 games. “We’ve been waiting for this team to go on a long winning streak, kind of like Seattle has. I mean, they [the Mariners] have had two eight-game winning streaks in the month of August to get them back into this playoff race.”
Treat every game like a playoff game
The Blue Jays will need to play with a sense of urgency in the season’s final 34 games if they want to play deep into October.
“The playoffs for them is tonight, tomorrow and so on and so forth,” said Romero. “They’ve just got to approach it that way. They just can’t give any innings away, any outs away.”