DUNEDIN, Fla. —
Ricky Romero is getting extra time to work out his woes.
The Toronto Blue Jays sent Romero to the minors after he pitched Tuesday in a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Romero was optioned to Dunedin of the Class A Florida State League. The 28-year-old lefty was 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA last season. He had a 6.23 ERA in five spring starts this year, allowing 17 hits and 10 walks in 13 innings.
“We ran out of time,” General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “He’s working on something that he hasn’t completed yet. We didn’t have enough time to get him to get him to complete it.”
“Ricky was better today, there’s no doubt about it and he’s making strides,” he said. “You could see it, everything was better but he’s not there yet. Could we have started with him? Sure, and ultimately it may have come in Toronto as well because he’s making strides here. But he’s not ready and he’s not as sharp as he needs to be and he needs more time.”
Anthopoulos did not guess at how long Romero will need.
Romero, who had been projected as the fifth starter in a revamped rotation, gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks in 41/3 innings against the Pirates. He struck out two and was spared additional damage by several defensive gems behind him.
“I’m not trying to win the Cy Young or anything in the spring,” Romero said after the game, before the move to the minors was announced. “The results haven’t been there, and that’s pretty obvious. And I see it, but it’s not like I’m not working. Sometimes I overwork.”
Said manager John Gibbons: “It’s a game of ups and downs, and he’s been a little down.”
Dustin McGowan returned to work for Toronto, pitching a perfect sixth inning in his spring debut. The right-hander, who has undergone three shoulder surgeries that have limited him to 21 innings since 2008, is being handled cautiously.
“He won’t be ready to start the season, but it could be not too long afterwards,” Gibbons said. “But we’ve got to make sure he’s good and ready the way his history has been. We don’t want to rush him.”
McGowan understands his return to the major leagues will begin in the bullpen.
“Honestly, I think right now if I was to start, I’d need 15 days to recover,” he said. “So I think this is the path to go right now.”
The Pirates, meanwhile, met a morning deadline by adding left-handed starter Jonathan Sanchez to the roster.
Sanchez then went out and gave up four runs and seven hits in 42/3 innings. He was upbeat after walking one and striking out six.
“They were swinging early. They were trying to hit my fastball and I changed the plan. I went to my breaking pitches,” said Sanchez, a combined 1-9 with an 8.07 ERA during stints with the Royals and Rockies last season.
Sanchez struck out Jose Reyes and Rajai Davis in the first inning, but between them allowed three runs and three hits. Among the hits was a high popup by Melky Cabrera that dropped between the mound and catcher Michael McKenry.
The pitcher redeemed himself in the fourth inning with his bat, hitting a two-out double.
He advanced to third when Sterling Marte reached on an error by first baseman Adam Lind and scored the tying run before Marte was caught in a rundown.
Davis and Lind hit solo home runs.
Notes: INF Brandon Inge also was added to the Pittsburgh roster before the game. ... RHP Sergio Santos was scheduled to pitch one inning for the Blue Jays, but he was sent home with flulike symptoms. ... Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie will miss at least the first four games of the season while he recovers from a strained right oblique muscle. Gibbons will employ a platoon of Mark DeRosa against left-handed pitching and Maicer Izturis against right-handers.