5/4/2013 12:30 A.M. ET
Romero makes season debut after stint in Minors
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- For two seasons, Ricky Romero was the ace of the Toronto staff.
But after a rough season in 2012 and a tough Spring Training, J.A. Happ found himself replacing Romero in the rotation. The former ace was subsequently shipped off to Dunedin, Fla., to work on his mechanics in order to get back to Toronto.
On Friday, Romero made his triumphant return to the mound at Rogers Centre after extensive work with Blue Jays roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson.
"It's going to be the same Ricky. He's the same guy," Johnson said prior to Friday's 4-0 loss to the Mariners. "We've taken what's best in that guy and polished it up as best we possibly could. We didn't reinvent him. We just took what was missing and implemented it, and got back to the basics in what needs to happen in that delivery."
Romero went four innings in his season debut, allowing three runs and striking out four. He faced the minimum number of batters through three frames, but a two-run homer and a loss of command in the fourth paved the way for an early exit.
Johnson and Romero went through an extensive amount of video, including the left-hander's first couple years with Toronto's Class A team in Dunedin in 2005 and '06, with the purpose of breaking down where the ball should come from.
The duo spent countless hours dissecting his delivery, along with his progression and regression over time, and after several weeks, they believe his delivery is consistent and repeatable.
"[His delivery is] much more consistent," Johnson said. "He's working down through the ball, he's over the ball and he's driving it down. He's not cutting the ball off or working side-to-side."
Romero worked hard on his delivery, with only subtle changes. According to Johnson, the main idea was to make sure "to cross his T's and dot his I's."
The duo added a tap for a timing sequence from his full windup, focused on making sure his shoulders are lined up with home plate, and that he's aggressive out of his front side and finishing pitches down and through the strike zone.
"It was more attention to detail on his throwing programs, on his sides, his delivery, and paying attention to those," Johnson said.
However, it took awhile for Romero to get down to the work he needed to do. He spent so much time in the offseason preparing himself for Spring Training that the news of not making the team struck him harder than he thought.
"I had so much anger and so much disappointment," Romero said. "A whole month where you're away from everyone, and at the beginning it's tough to realize what I need to really work on. And it took me a couple days."
With all the work in Dunedin, Romero pitched in only one Minor League game, something that Johnson believes isn't a concern.
"He has enough reps under his belt doing things properly technique-wise and mechanically, where he can worry about the hitter and what's going on at home plate," Johnson said.
"From Day 1, Dane told me, 'You're going to commit to this or you're not.' When he sat me down and told me that it was just time to work, that's what I did," Romero said. "Every four or five hours that I was there, I was committed."
The work certainly paid off in his only Minor League start, as Romero induced 16 ground-ball outs, struck out four and didn't walk a single batter.
Toronto discouraged after series loss to Red Sox
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are coming off another tough series loss to Boston, in which the club scored two runs in the final two games.
Toronto won the first game against the Red Sox to close out April, but stumbled to the tune of only 11 hits and three errors the rest of the way.
When asked if there was anything encouraging to be taken from the series, manager John Gibbons responded, "No, to be honest with you. No.
"The last few days, I haven't been sitting around my room thinking, 'I feel good about that,'" Gibbons said.
It's early May and the season is well under way, yet Toronto has won only a single series all season, which came April 12-14 in Kansas City. The Blue Jays are currently sporting the third-worst record in the Majors.
The offense has been feast or famine, with the majority of the time being famine, having scored more than three runs in only 12 of their 29 games prior to Friday's contest vs. the Mariners.
"We're not looking for things to build on and feel good about," Gibbons said. "Bottom line is win. Just compete and win, and it hasn't happened yet."
Gibbons changes course on Blue Jays' lineup
TORONTO -- On Thursday, manager John Gibbons thought he had a lineup that he was willing to stick with.
The club subsequently scored just one run on seven hits, and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position against Ryan Dempster and the Red Sox.
So as quickly as deciding to stick to a lineup, Gibbons reversed course and changed his order, penciling in the 27th different lineup in 30 games for Toronto. He reassigned the struggling Melky Cabrera -- who is 6-for-40 in his last 10 games, with one walk and 11 strikeouts -- into the second spot, switching places with Adam Lind, who will now bat sixth.
"Nothing's going good right now," Gibbons said. "Just kind of reverted back to the beginning of the season and get Melky in there. That's kind of the way we designed it."
Cabrera is a little off-balance at the plate, and that is believed to be the reason he's having a hard time collecting hits. But Gibbons thinks there's been some improvement.
"A little [progress]. He hasn't gotten the results, [but] he's been working at it," Gibbons said. "[He] came out for some early batting practice a couple days ago, and they've been messing in the cage with it."
Friday's game vs. the Mariners marked the 19th time that Cabrera hit out of the second spot in the lineup, and it's something that the Blue Jays originally intended when they signed the left fielder as a free agent in the offseason.
"It was kind of by design that he was going to hit there when we started, so we'll give that a shot and see what happens," Gibbons said.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.