Blue Jays select Romero to start opener

Left-hander Ricky Romero will be the Blue Jays opening day

starter just two seasons after barely making Toronto’s roster.

Manager John Farrell made the announcement Friday. Romero was

No. 2 in the rotation last season behind Shaun Marcum, who has been

traded to Milwaukee.

”It means everything,” Romero said of starting against the

Twins at home on April 1. ”It means a lot. To be able to do what

I’ve accomplished in the first two years of my career with Toronto

has been amazing. I told Farrell that I was about as excited as I

was when I was called in (to his office) and told that I’d made the

team.”

In his most recent outing, Romero pitched four shutout innings,

allowing one hit, striking out six and walking two against

Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Romero didn’t make the Blue Jays big league

roster until after his final 2009 spring start, when he was in a

three-way competition for the fifth spot. He was 13-9 with a 4.30

earned-run average as a rookie and 14-9, 2.73 last season.

He was drafted sixth overall in 2005, one spot ahead of Colorado

shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. While Tulowitzki made it to the majors

in 2006 and has batted .290 with 92 home runs and 338 RBIs, Romero

showed little in the Class-A and Double-A, compiling a 16-21 record

in 2005-08.

Romero said he took motivation from an article in Sports

Illustrated about the 2005 draft class in which former Blue Jays

general manager J.P. Ricciardi said the team ”had made the wrong

decision” in picking Romero instead of Tulowitzki.

”Being considered a bust pretty much, I think that helped me

grow,” Romero said. ”Now I look back at those years of struggling

and I thank God every day for it because it made me stronger,

mentally and physically, and it’s helped me to get to where I’m at

today.”

Farrell said the Blue Jays believe Romero is ready to be the

team’s ace.

”We have that confidence in him that he can match up with

whoever is put out there by any other club,” Farrell said.

Being the No. 1 starter ”is just another challenge,” Romero

said. ”… Whoever you’ve got to face that night, you’ve got to go

out there and beat ’em.”