Scottsdale, Arizona. – No major league player has hit the mound at the Giants’ waterfront football field in more games than Sergio Romo. He sank the cheers in as many as 268 regular season appearances as an important bullpen member on three World Series teams. But it was his four extra visitor appearances that really made him understand where he was in the house.
“I was never booed—even when I showed up dressed as a Dodger,” said Romo. “That’s how passionate they were. They didn’t see the shirt I was wearing. They still saw me. That’s really the best way I can describe it: I just appreciated how visible my teammates, the fans, everyone made me feel. Maybe they helped me feel seen. I was I knew I was doing something right. I knew I was home.”
And now, six years after throwing his last pitch as a Giant and embarking on a free agent journey that has led him to the Dodgers and Rays and Marlins and Twins and the A’s and Mariners and Blue Jays and Monclova in the Mexican League, Romo is ready to call it a career. He’s ready to go home.
But first, he’s getting ready to put on the show again.
The Giants and Romo agreed to a minor league contract that included an invitation to major league camp. He is scheduled to travel to Arizona on Friday and, pending a physical, will arrive at Scottsdale Stadium to find a locker of Giants uniforms. He will not wear the clothes of special trainers and assistants. He will join the club among his new teammates.
If all goes well, the Giants will work with Romo to build his conditioning and arm strength to appear in an exhibition game or two, including the March 27 Bay Bridge exhibition finale against the San Francisco A’s. The 40-year-old right-hander would run to the mound to the frantic banda beat of “El Mechón” again, crack a few sweeping sliders and shut down one of the most iconic careers in Giants history.
“When they approached me, it was like, ‘You never know, you might get lightning in a bottle,’” Romo said. “And I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m going to be honest with you guys, I haven’t done anything since September.” Lightning in this bottle, believe me. You won’t find it. But I know I’ll try to compete with my ass when I’m there. I might actually be nervous for a change.”
Romo’s grit was as defining a feature as his signature slider, making him a comfortable pitcher ahead of his time in a game that has drawn more and more to squeeze the major out of the game. No pitch he’s thrown in his career has been more daring or symbolic than the innocuous 88-mph fastball in 2012 that froze Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, to win the Giants’ World Series in Detroit.
On ESPN now it’s one of my all-time favorite solo shows. Sergio Romo threw the slider after the pass to Miguel Cabrera, limping to the mound, freezing him to hit three with a fastball. A witty bet “backwards”. pic.twitter.com/o8HfoPGGuz
– Eno Sarris (@enosarris) May 19, 2020
Romo came from a small town between the Salton Sea and the lettuce fields of the Imperial Valley. He was standing at 5-foot-10 with his thorns. He’s pitched to places like Arizona Western College, the University of North Alabama, and Colorado Mesa University, hoping someone will notice him and still give him a chance to perform. And he played a more ruthless sport than Monsanto, routinely dumping perfect bodied specimens taken in the first round and having all the shiny new equipment they could want and getting every developmental advantage. In that environment, how could an undersized 28th player from Brawley, California stand a chance of making it to the big leagues? Or imagine the possibility of staying there?
But Romo had something that not many of those in the first round had.
The slider with all the bible bravery slid off a slingshot. And he was never short of stones.
Now Romo, the last active member of the Giants’ four base relief pitchers, plans to throw that slider into the Giants’ uniform one last time.
Giants president Farhan Zaidi brokered the deal with Romo’s agent, Barry Meister, who understood what completing the circuit would mean for his client. Former Giants general manager Bobby Evans, who lives close to Romo in San Francisco, also helped plant a seed that was already germinating in Zaidi’s mind in the second half of last season. Zeddy said he considered reaching out to Meister about Romo after the Blue Jays released him on July 20, but the Giants didn’t have a 40-man roster at the time and Romo had another interest. He signed with Monclova on August 1, preventing him from joining the other members of the Core Four in the Giants’ 2012 World Series meeting 12 days later.
Romo entered this past season unsure of his plans. But he said he knew it was time to call it a career when he didn’t get an invitation to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. So the transition in his life to a full-time family man began. He married his longtime partner, Melinda, in January, and is enjoying the strong bond he forms with his sons Raylene, 17, Rex, 11, Rhys, 7, Mateo, 4, and Lucas, who turns 2 on Sunday.
But the other two weeks in Giants uniform were just too good to pass up.
“It’s a legitimate invite from those not on the list,” said Romo, who is bringing his entire family with him to experience the next few weeks together. “I go through all the formalities. I don’t blame them. I’m 40. I don’t blame them for wanting to cover their ass if something happens. I just hope I get a team discount so I can get all my kids new jerseys! I’m excited, I truly. “
Circumstances may be different now. So are expectations. If nothing else, Romo will be in camp advising Giants pitchers on mound mentality and maybe even sharing a secret or two about his signature slider. He must smile anytime he hears about the latest trends in playground design.
“They teach sweepers now!” He said in a fake announcer’s voice punctuated with laughter. “This is the year of the sweeper. I’m like, “Oh, so now the cleaning agent matters?” The sweeper is a game changer? huh. So the last 15 years of my life haven’t been like that? It was a game changer for me!
“I could swipe a slider for once. I was hesitant to do that, I can’t lie. It’s the only real thing that separated me from the rest. It’s just different.”
This isn’t the first time the Giants have pulled out some menu strings so the beloved player can come back to finish his career in a Giants uniform. in 2008, They signed first baseman JT Snow led to a major league contract and was briefly placed on the 40-man roster for the penultimate game of the 2008 season. Snow, who had not appeared in a major league game since 2006 with the Red Sox, was announced as the starting catcher at first base, took to the field, and drew applause. the latter, then submitted to Travis Ishikawa before Matt Kane delivered the match. The first pitch. Snow earned a prorated portion of the $390,000 minimum major league salary at the time, which was $2,131.
“It’s a good statement of what we think of him,” then-general manager Brian Sabin said at the time. “He’s one of the most popular players and one of the real professionals to ever wear the uniform.”
Unlike Snow’s farewell, Romo’s final appearance will not appear in Official Baseball Statistics. Although the original stadium was for Romo to sign a one-day contract, the 40-man roster is always the most expensive in the days leading up to the season opener. So the invention of the NRI contract and the emergence of the Bay Bridge Series would be a way for the Giants to salute Romo and give their fans a moment to remember without complicating their roster plans as they make their final picks in the opener on March 30 at Yankee Stadium.
Romo said Scott Alexander, the left-hander currently wearing No. 54, said he didn’t want or need his old number.
He said, “I promise I’m not trying to take anyone’s place.” “I’m telling you honestly, I’m not coming here to make a team. I can’t make that team right now. Basically I’m not even trying. I love where I am in life, and seeing my kids as much as I can. I’ve made a home here (in San Francisco).”
“For the most part of my career, especially my giant days, I struggled with finding a home for myself. I would go back to Brawley and it just didn’t feel right. It felt good to be at home and around my parents and close family, but I had to leave after a few Days. It was like I was meant to be somewhere else. And now, being here, I never feel like I have to leave. I have what I need here. I have what makes me feel good here.
“So bringing back the circle means a lot. Hunter (Pence) should do it. Pablo (Sandoval) got a chance to do it. Matt Cain, he was lucky to play his entire career in one place. So this is humbling. Don’t try to be inappropriate. Very, but that’s dope, you know?”
Romo isn’t sure what to expect. He just knows the emotions will flow.
“The only thing I don’t want to do and that I’m probably afraid to do is cry,” he said. “I don’t know emotionally how I would feel. Not just running out there but…walking.
“If we all wrote on a piece of paper a dream scenario, like, ‘This is what you want to happen,’ I still couldn’t write it like it happened. In every way.
“Forever Giant. You hear that, forever giant. And for me, that’s what it is. I mean this. Forever grateful. Legally, that’s what it is.”
(Romo file photo in 2014: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
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