CLEVELAND — Ramon Romero, the tall and thin left-handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has suddenly moved from obscurity to prove he can strike out batters.
Romero has labored in the American League team's farm system for eight years. He is in the starting rotation now because the Indians' pitching staff is plagued with injuries.
He started the season with the Indians but after one disastrous relief appearance against Detroit, he was sent to the Indians' Class AAA affiliate, the Maine Guides. In Maine, he went 0-2 with a 3.00 earned run average, but only made one start out of 15 appearances.
"I know this is my chance," said the 26-year-old Romero, who is from the Dominican Republic. "I'm ready now to pitch in the big leagues."
Romero proved that in a recent game against the Kansas City Royals. In eight innings, he struck out six and walked one. His fastball was humming anywhere from 87 to 89 m.p.h.
In the ninth inning, Kansas got three of their seven hits and Manager Pat Corrales pulled Romero. Romero appeared assured of his first major league victory since the Indians had a 4-1 lead. But the Royals tied the game with three runs in the ninth before the Indians finally won, 5-4, in the 11th inning.
In his first major league start July 7, Romero went 5 innings against the Chicago White Sox, striking out four, walking four and allowing four hits.
"I've always wanted to start," Romero said. "But I had control problems. I kept throwing balls so they moved me to relief. I still get nervous when I start, but I like this the best."
While Romero's fastball has natural movement, how long he'll stay in the big leagues will be determined by his breaking pitch.