Versatile Romo feeling young as part of rebuilding Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Veteran reliever Sergio Romo believes Miami’s rebuilt roster can become his fountain of youth.

“I think the youth here gives me energy, gives me confidence that I can still play because I’m with them every day,” Romo said. “Yesterday we were running and, yeah, they beat me, but they didn’t beat me by much.”

Miami bucked the trend of clubs filling bullpens with fireballing relievers by signing the 35-year-old right-hander and his 85-mph fastball to a one-year, $2.5 million contract on Friday. Romo employs an array of curves and sliders to set up a fastball that arrives at the plate at the same speed as many major leaguers’ change-ups.

“It’s 85, but it’s coming hot,” said Romo, who will become the second-oldest Marlin should 37-year-old Curtis Granderson make the club out of spring training.

Romo saved 84 games for San Francisco from 2008 to 2016, winning three World Series rings. After a year with the Dodgers, he spent the past two seasons with Tampa Bay, recording 25 saves for the Rays last season.

The Marlins, Braves and Mets were among the teams that scouted Romo during the offseason in the Mexican winter league.

“This is one of the teams where I said, ‘Man, I kind of fit there,'” Romo said of the Marlins. “If they gave me a shot I think I can do some pretty cool things there.”

Brad Ziegler and Kyle Barraclough led Miami with 10 saves apiece last season. The Marlins traded the now-retired Ziegler to Arizona near last year’s trading deadline, and traded Barraclough to Washington in October.

Romo joins righty Drew Steckenrider (five saves in 2018) and lefty Ed Conley (three saves last season) as options to close games for Miami.

“I don’t think we have that one guy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We don’t have the Kenley Jansen, the guy that would profile as the guy, so I think we have to put these guys in the best situation to get three outs.”

Mattingly would prefer not to jump on the trend of using a reliever as an “opener” for games, electing instead to continue the development of the Marlins’ young staff, though Romo said he discussed that topic with the club before he signed.

Romo, who started five games last season for the Rays, called the prospect or reprising his opener role “intriguing.”

“When it comes to the whole staring bit, I don’t know if I can throw five innings every fifth day — at the minimum five innings every fifth day,” Romo said. “I do know as an opener I can throw you five innings in five days — that type of stuff.”