TORONTO – If Ricky Romero’s body was a car, the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander figures the arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow and platelet-rich plasma injections to his knees were more of a tune-up to get him running right than a major repair for serious damage.
“That’s a perfect analogy,” Romero said on a conference call Tuesday evening. “Might as well get everything done rather than be sorry later.”
Both Romero, and the Blue Jays are counting on that after perhaps finding some explanation behind his dreadful 2012 season, during which the former all-star went 9-14 with 124 strikeouts, 105 walks, a 5.77 ERA, and a 1.67 WHIP over 181 innings.
While Romero wouldn’t pin the blame for his poor performance on it, he conceded that he pitched with pain in his elbow that progressively increased, eventually leading him to get an MRI after the season.
Dr. Lewis Yocum found nothing obvious in that exam and suggested either a cortisone shot and hoping for the best, or exploratory surgery.
The 27-year-old opted to go under the knife — a procedure that took place Oct. 16 but was kept under wraps by the club until Tuesday – and Yocum ended up cleaning out some scar tissue and other issues on the outside of Romero’s elbow that he described as “dirty stuff.”
“Did it affect my performance? I don’t think it ever did,” said Romero. “I’m never going to make an excuse about this past season. I stunk and that’s it. You just move on.”
Both Romero and the Blue Jays said repeatedly during the season that he was healthy and that they didn’t suspect that there were any physical issues. Given the amount of injuries the Blue Jays suffered in their rotation, it sounded like Romero might have kept the extent of his pain quiet to keep pitching.
As he explained: “I used to go in there, get treatment and I never made it a big deal. … I never saw any velocity decrease or anything like that, (the pain) was a little bit more than usual.”
“With the hard work I put in,” he continued, “you’re going to have to chop my left arm off for me not to take the mound. That’s the mentality I take. If there’s anything I learn from this, it’s just to be a bit more cautious and talk a little more and let them know how you’re feeling a bit more. Then you’re able to get options on how to recover a bit quicker during the year. With everything that piled up this year, I just wanted to keep taking the ball and get out of my own mess.”
Romero will need six weeks to recover from the procedure and he is expected to participate in his usual off-season throwing program and to be ready for spring training. He pointed out that Yocum didn’t find any damage to his elbow ligament.
“He said that looked about as healthy as he’s seen, so that’s always good news,” said Romero.
As for the PRP injections, he took one in the left knee he injured in his final start of the season, and another in his right knee, which was also sore. Everything is coming along nicely.
“I’ve been doing therapy since a week after the season ended, busting my butt, making sure the knees are good,” said Romero. “The elbow is progressing like they thought, I have full extension of it now, and the progression is coming along pretty good.”