MLB Spring Training: Toronto Blue Jays' Ricky Romero on Quest for the Postseason

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MLB Spring Training: Toronto Blue Jays' Ricky Romero on Quest for the Postseason
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Toronto Blue Jays' ace starting pitcher Ricky Romero is on a quest to lead the Jays into the postseason.

Being a leader is not a role that he personally assumed, but he naturally developed into it with his relaxed but strong and solid work ethic.

The Blue Jays have had decent seasons over the last few years, but have ended the last four seasons in fourth place. Romero said that he is tired of having to go home early in October, and wants the team to advance into the postseason.

Romero has had experience in the past of dealing with negativity and overcoming adversity. He struggled while in Single-A and Double-A after being drafted with high expectations in 2005. His struggles continued into 2007 while playing in Triple-A.

Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told Sports Illustrated that he made a mistake by taking Romero in the draft in 2005. Many players would crumble and give up after reading something like that about themselves.

Romero used that as an incentive and as motivation. He placed a copy of the article in his locker while playing for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and eventually learned to have great control on the mound.

When new general manager Alex Anthopoulos took over Toronto, he admitted that he believed that Romero was on his way out, but he turned things around at the end.

Romero's determination to succeed led to his transformation giving him the 2009 Rookie of the Year Award from the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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He continued to improve and achieve more success with a 14-9 win-loss record in 2010, and then becoming the leader of the starting rotation in 2011.

In 2011, Romero had 15 wins, 178 strikeouts and threw four complete games in 225 innings. Romero began in the minors with a GM stating that drafting him was a mistake, and became one of the elite starting pitchers in the American League.

Romero took the opportunity last season to talk with his teammates to motivate them during a few difficult losses. He said that the team needed to get more contributions from players outside of Jose Bautista and Adam Lind.

His words may have stirred up a bit of controversy at the time, but his teammates understood his message. His intention was to state that no excuses would be accepted. Everyone must contribute to the collective success of the team.

Romero said that the team must develop a sense of arrogance, and each player should not simply want to win. They should each expect to win.

Although his meaning of arrogance may be misinterpreted, he believes that a form of it is necessary to compete in the AL East. The Yankees and the Red Sox possess that type of arrogance that he talked about.

Romero knows that his teammates are just as sick of going home early in October as he is, and he wants this year's team to be a part of the postseason.

This could very well be the year that the Blue Jays will surprise everyone. They have made some significant offseason moves to strengthen the team. The starting pitching rotation and the bullpen are both at the strongest that they've been in many years.

The Toronto Blue Jays have a well-rounded team for 2012 with pitching and young players who are highly motivated.

Offensively and defensively, the Blue Jays are going to be difficult to beat and will be a strong force in the AL East.

Romero should be proud, and he should be recognized, because he has a great deal to do with the motivation of the 2012 Blue Jays.

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