04/11/2011 10:56 AM ET
Romero: Jays exhibit heart, hustle
Ace left-hander says team is ready for next level
The start to my season has been good so far. I have gone out there and given my team a chance to win, and that is all you can ask for as a starting pitcher. My goals are to go deep into the game and to get our team in a position to win. It is not about me, my stats and what I am doing. It is about winning ballgames.
As for the success I have had so far, I think the key is that I have been attacking hitters and I am throwing strikes. I have had some issues in the past with walks, but right now I have a good feel for the strike zone. I've also kept hitters off balance. It is never an easy task to go out there and compete against big league hitters. You really have to understand what you are doing, and you have to pitch to your strengths. I think I have done that well so far.
The biggest change for me since breaking in is to know that I am physically preparing myself as well as any other starter in the league. I am working hard every day to get better. Mentally, my confidence also continues to grow. I am realizing little by little that my stuff is good, and I am realizing how to throw strikes, how to attack hitters and how to read hitters. It remains a work in progress, but I try to learn something every day I come to the ballpark. You can never stop learning about yourself.
As for my role on this staff, I love it. There is nothing better than being at the top of the rotation. But at the same time, we as a group don't see it like that. I feel like every starter on our staff can be a No. 1 starter in the future. We are a close group, and we love each other to death. We love to have fun together and keep each other loose. I've said this before and I will continue to say it: I will take my five guys over any other five guys out there. We also have Brandon Morrow coming back. When he returns, our rotation will be that much better, which is not to take anything away from Jesse Litsch. He is a big part of our rotation now, and he's big part of our future.
We see and hear that people are counting us out of the race, so we use that as motivation. We talk among ourselves about having a chip on our shoulders. Not because some people count us out, but because we know what we can do against big league hitters. If we stick to our plan and we continue to win games, our team is going to be just fine.
That chip on our shoulders is part of our competitive nature. I am a competitor, and you play the game to compete. You can see that on the face of every guy in our clubhouse. We all want to go out there and compete. I know it might sound cliché, but we use the words hustle and heart here a lot. We really believe in that. We make it our mission to go out there and give it our all for nine innings. It is three, three-and-a-half hours of our day where we get paid to go out there and leave it all on the field. This team has heart, and we are ready to take it to the next level.
Being competitive can also mean being emotional. I think over the years that is something I have learned to do a better job of controlling. My first two years I had some times when I was not as calm as I would have liked to have been. Sometimes you want to blow up and do things you wouldn't normally do. But I think I am doing a better job of staying in control.
Composure comes with experience, and that is one of the things I've explained to our rookie right-hander Kyle Drabek. I love the way he is handling himself. He is a true professional, which is one of the traits of our staff as a whole. Obviously, you are going to have those days when you let out more emotion, but that is because you work so hard and you expect so much of yourself.
Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero is in his third season with the Toronto. The Los Angeles native won 13 and 14 games in each of the last two years, respectively. After two starts this season, Romero is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Last year, the left-hander signed a new five-year contract.