Jays From the Couch sits down for an interview with Blue Jays’ Canadian pitcher, Jordan Romano
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Romano is the up and coming hometown boy, a role he seems to embrace and wants to live up to. In a time where the pitching discussions are not exactly heaping praise, Romano seems to block it out and keep his eye on the prize. Not always easy under the microscope that is playing for your hometown team. JFTC has the opportunity to ask him about pressure, his throw and Timmies coffee.
You can listen to the interview:
JFtC: It is Catherine Stem from Jays From the Couch and I‘m sitting here with Jordan Romano, how are you doing today?
JR: I’m doing good, can’t complain.
JFtC: Jordan is from Markham, which is where I’m from, and it’s really exciting to talk to a hometown boy! Starting with the 2018 season, the offseason was quite a whirlwind for you, WhiteSox, Rangers, then back to the BlueJays. How did it feel going back to the hometown team?
JR: Ya like you said it was definitely a lot, that 2018 offseason. I’ve been a Jay since 2014, you know and that’s the team I thought I’d be making my debut with, and then getting picked up by the WhiteSox and then almost 15 minutes later getting flipped over to Texas you know, and spending time in camp with Texas, I mean it was definitely a lot. But then ultimately coming back to the Blue jays and finally making my debut a few weeks ago I mean that was pretty special to kind of come full circle back to the Blue Jays and pitching for my hometown team.
JFtC: Now your parents were able to fly out for your debut yes? What was that like?
JR: It was awesome. I told them the night before, and my dad was on his way to work. He was working the night shift and he turned right around and he’s like “I’m not going to work today, I’m going to catch the early flight to Baltimore.” Just being able to pitch in front of them, they’re pretty proud and kind of all the hard work they put in for me I’m glad I was able to show them what I could do on a big league mound.
JFtC: And share that moment with them…
JFtC: What was it like playing for Italy in the 2017 World Classic?
JR: That was a great experience. My dad, he was born in Italy so I still have family over there. Just to be a part of something like that. The season before I was in low A, not too many crazy fans and big atmospheres and then going to Mexico and playing in some of those games against a lot of big league talent. That was a cool experience.
JFtC: Do you think it will be similar to playing with the Blue Jays when you’re called up for good being that it’s the country’s team?
JR: Ya, I think definitely, and another thing is like the crowds are similar, the stadium’s packed, it’s more of an intense environment you got to win as opposed to some of the minor league games you know what I mean? Definitely the environment. Toronto is Canada’s team and I was playing for Italy”s team so definitely pretty similar,
JFtC: You’ve made adjustments to your throwing, and the change has been successful. Is it feeling more natural or is it still on your mind as you wind up?
JR: It’s definitely feeling more natural now. This is probably a month and a half that I’ve kind of switched my throwing motion and a month and a half since I’ve been in the bullpen, so every time I’m out there it’s starting to feel a little more natural. Of course still working on it everyday but as time goes by it’s definitely feeling more natural, more comfortable.
JFtC: So if you had to choose, where would you go, starter, bullpen or closer? There’s talk of Ken Giles being traded at the deadline and you taking that spot…
JR: I mean he’s very good at what he does..
JFtC: Yes he is.
JR: You know, I really like the bullpen, so anywhere in the bullpen. I definitely like later innings like I’m doing here. Definitely bullpen later inning guy that would be kind of my dream role, to lock down a spot like that.
JFtC: That would be cool, would you be our closer one day or too daunting?
JR: I mean I’d hope to be..
JFtC: It’s a lot of pressure
JR: I’d hope to put myself in a position to be that guy.
JFtC: So do you think that being from Markham, there’s a lot more pressure on you because you’re a hometown boy?
JR: I don’t see it as pressure. I actually really like it because I know kind of the support system that’s around me, that’s coming to the games and stuff, so I wouldn’t say it’s pressure I think it makes it a little easier for me, just having a lot of people supporting me along the way, coming to games. I think it’s less pressure, kind of makes it easier honestly.
JFtC: Have you ever had a conversation with Dalton Pompey as to what he faced starting with the Blue Jays?
JR: Ya definitely I really have. You know he came up at 21 and I’m 26 so it’s a little bit different, but he definitely said you know the big leagues, it’s a pressure filled environment, you know what I mean? So you’ve got to be ready for it, and I think my five, six seasons in the minor leagues have just kind of prepped me for it.
JFtC: What was your favourite hangout as a kid?
JR: I mean, I’d always frequent Markville Mall, I’d go there a lot. I’d always go to Miliken Mills, they have the ball diamonds there. I’d go out with my friends, play a pick up game of baseball, play catch, stuff like that. So I’d say Miliken Mills and Markville I guess.
JFtC: It’s hysterical you said Markville because my very next question was how many times did you skip class and head to Markville Mall?
JR: Oh man….
JFtC: I know how close your highschool was to that place…
JR: Ya it’s right up the street…
JFtC: I guess you don’t want to say how many times you skipped class?
JR: Ya I’d get in trouble for that.
JFtC: What would you say to the kids in Toronto dreaming about a career in the MLB?
JR: It definitely takes a lot of hard work. I was kind of one of those kids. It’s kind of a pipedream, but if you just keep at it, work hard, it’s not impossible. There’s a lot of us that have done it, but it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
JFtC: Do you think the opportunities are opening up in baseball at this time?
JR: Ya definitely, I’d say definitely in Canada as well. The game’s growing there every year, and a lot of new teams are popping up that kids are getting more exposure so it’s definitely a lot easier now and going forward to be a Canadian kid and finally being able to play in the MLB I think.
JFtC: What do you miss most about living in Canada? I know you’re only across the border and it’s really close but…
JR: The one thing I did miss most, they have it here but whenever I was in Canada I’d get a Tim Hortons regular coffee every single morning, and when I was playing in New Hampshire and Florida they didn’t have that but now I’m in Buffalo I still got to get it, so I’d say Tim Hortons regular coffee, that’s the thing I missed most about not living in Canada.
JFtC: That is so Canadian. Have you ever had to explain bagged milk to anybody?
JR: Ya it has come up and they think it’s the weirdest thing ever, and growing up I didn’t know it came any other way. Ya they think it’s really weird I just think it’s normal.
JFtC: I just explain to them it makes it ice cold..
JR: Ya it’s ice cold, I mean I think that’s the way milk should be but you know the jugs alright too I guess.
JFtC: So looking forward, who would be your dream strikeout?
JR: Dream strikeout? Ok, dream strikeout, Carlos Correa
JR: It was WBC 2017, he hit a homer off me, got it pretty good, made sure everyone knew he got it pretty good, so it would kind of be my dream strikeout.
JFtC: So you’re looking for some payback…
JFtC: So when do you think we’re going to see you in Toronto a little bit more full time? We only got a glimpse and the fans want more I won’t lie..
JR: That’s totally up to front office, those decisions are up to them. All I can do is work hard here, try to pitch well, and I mean hopefully soon. I really want to be back up there. Just getting that little taste makes me hungry and want to come back up. Hopefully soon but I don’t know.
JFtC: In the mean time, you guys are kind of on a surge and only a couple of games out of the wild card, how’s that feeling?
JR: Coming back here, the team’s hot, everyone’s playing well. Everyone’s pretty light in the clubhouse, everyone’s enjoying coming to the field, so I’m really liking being back. Just how everyone’s playing, how everyone’s acting, it’s been awesome.
JFtC: All of us from your hometown are wishing you all the best and we can’t wait to see you up in Toronto. Thank you for taking your time.
JR: Thanks, thanks again.
With the Buffalo Bisons playing well and only a few games out of the wildcard, Romano’s arm would be missed if he was to be called to Toronto. The Bisons are rallying to fight for the wildcard on their way to what would be the team’s first playoff appearance since 2005. But then there’s that issue up north, that pitching one. Pitching is a need in Toronto. Given that glaring need as well as the trade deadline looming, it could very well be sooner than later that Jordan Romano comes home.
PODCAST INTRO/OUTRO AUDIO CREDIT: CENTZ UNDER CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.