BOSTON - Ricky Romero is here in the literal sense. In the baseball sense, while he continues to put in the time and the work, he could just as easily be somewhere else.
Relegated to a long role in the bullpen since returning as a September call up, Romero's appeared in just one game, a two-inning outing against the Angels almost two weeks ago.
"It's different," Romero told TSN.ca. "It's definitely something I've never been used to but I'm adapting to it. As they say, you've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable sometimes and I'm getting my work done."
At this point, it seems doubtful Romero will get a start prior to the season ending next Sunday. Manager John Gibbons remains committed to his current five-man group of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, J.A. Happ, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers.
Happ is scheduled to pitch on Monday in a make up game in Chicago, the Jays' last remaining game against a fellow non-contender. If there was to be an opportunity for Romero, or Kyle Drabek, to get the call, that would have been it.
Romero knows he won't be pitching late in a close game. With the rotation's improved performance of late and the larger number of available relievers in September, there haven't been many innings to parcel out.
Still, Romero tries to stay prepared.
"If it's been a few days and I feel like I need to work and just kind of to stay fresh I'll go in there and ask (pitching coach) Pete (Walker) and get some work done," he said. "Obviously, like I said, it's something that I've never really been used to. You know, (Friday,) getting up and you fire away and it's crazy. It's a different feeling. We have a good group of guys down there that, you just continue to learn and appreciate those guys even more. Not that I didn't before but now you're like, wow, kind of like it's a little bit of a chaos that goes down there when that phone rings and everyone's just kind of watching (bullpen coach) Pat (Hentgen) to see whose name he's going to call out.
"It's a different adrenaline rush," Romero continued. "I don't like it. I like my starter role but, like I said, it's a little different but I'm adapting to it."
Like appearances this month, nothing is guaranteed Romero heading into next season. He's back on the 40-man roster but he could, once again, be designated for assignment to clear space for someone else. Owed at least $15.6-million over the next two seasons, it's difficult to imagine another club making a waiver claim for such a steep price.
Romero understands the business side of the game. He tries to avoid thinking about it when possible.
"Stay positive and just go about my business and continue to do that and just be ready whenever my name is called," he said. "That's all I can do. I don't make those decisions on when I'm going to come in and stuff like that. All I can do is just continue to come here, put on my uniform and go to work."
Admittedly tired of the questions about his future, about how he's handled the adversity of the last almost two calendar years and about where he sees his career going, Romero insists he will emerge stronger than before.
"These struggles go beyond baseball," he said. "It goes beyond all that stuff. It's made me tougher in other aspects of life. It's one of those things where this game's not easy. I don't want to go out there and fail. I think I have spurts where I go out there and think about it and reflect on stuff. The past, there's nothing I can do about it anymore. Nobody's more disappointed than me but at the same time it's a learning experience and from talking to the older guys they're like, man, this is going to make so much better for years to come for you and one day you're going to look back on it and it's not going to matter that much. That's the way I kind of approach things, one day at a time, come in, do my work and go to home just knowing that you're giving it your all."
After his perfect inning on Saturday night, Sergio Santos hasn't allowed a run in 16 appearances dating back to August 16 nor a hit in 14 appearances dating to August 20.
"Just command right now," said Santos of what's working for him. "Just kind of, I feel like I'm throwing strikes and attacking hitters and just getting myself an opportunity to get ahead. I'm doing that so hopefully I can keep doing it."
Santos was acquired from the White Sox on December 6, 2011, for Nestor Molina, with the expectation he would be the Blue Jays' closer. Injuries opened the door for Casey Janssen to take over the role.
He saved 30 games for Chicago two seasons ago and, following a surgical elbow clean up earlier this year, Santos offered up reason for Jays' fans to be confident in him down the road.
"To me, I feel better (than in 2011,)" he said. "I feel better just because I'm able to command my fastball a little more consistently to the inner and outer half so I'm feeling good right now, I'm kind of in a little groove right now and hopefully I can keep it going for as long as I can."
Steve Delabar's been struggling of late. He's allowed at least one run (five total) in each of his last three appearances, marking only the second time this season he's allowed runs in consecutive outings.
Delabar missed most of August with right shoulder inflammation from which he's recovered. Now, he admits, he's fatigued.
"Where we are in the season and, you know, mentally just as much as physically everybody's beat down right now," he said. "Everybody on our side is probably on the same level right now. I'm just, like everybody else, just grinding it out and finishing the season strong."
Delabar, at 30, is completing his first full season in the big leagues and with it has come some lessons.
"You've got to pace yourself," he said. "You come out in April, in spring training, and all the throws that you make from before BP to during BP and you feel great so you're letting it go. You maybe catch a fly ball off the wall and you turn around and you fire it in and you can't do that. You've got to pace yourself out and realize that those throws count even more later on. Casey (Janssen) and (Darren) Oliver, they tell you that kind of stuff and it really doesn't sink in until you actually need them. You're going, hey, yeah, that makes sense. Just pace yourself throughout the season and don't go crazy."