© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/30/08 10:39 PM ET
Romero seizing chance with D-backs
Preparation, work ethic help outfielder make name for himself
By Mike Ritter / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- It may be just a temporary role, but Alex Romero is seizing every opportunity to make sure he's a mainstay in the D-backs' outfield. After effectively saving the game in the eighth inning Tuesday night with his unbelievable running grab, appearing from nowhere to rob Padres pinch-hitter Jody Gerut of a bases-loaded, game-tying hit, the backup outfielder is opening some eyes as to just how good of a defensive player he is. "He's real good," fellow outfielder Chris Young said. "When it comes to a situation like in the game [Tuesday night], he was definitely ready for it. It may seem like he just threw his glove out there, but I'm pretty sure he had a plan and he had confidence he was going to make that play." Just as Romero emerged from nowhere in right-center field at PETCO Park, he arrived to Spring Training as a long shot just to make the D-backs roster this season. Romero, a 24-year-old from Venezuela, was a virtual unknown in the spring but made the Opening Day roster, edging out veteran Trot Nixon for the final bench spot. D-backs manager Bob Melvin said Romero's preparation and tremendous work ethic, starting all the way back in Tucson, has allowed him to have such success while Justin Upton recovers from a strained left oblique. "You have surprises over the course of the season and there are guys that kind of come from nowhere," Melvin said. "Now, he's making a name for himself at the big league level for us. The key is to seize the opportunities when you get them, and he's getting them and seizing them." Romero consistently goes all out in batting practice, running for every ball hit in his general direction, attempting to make a play on any ball hit his way, just as he did Tuesday night, all the while making the top play of the day on SportsCenter. "I knew the ball was hit well, but I just ran to the ball as hard as I could and tried to keep my eyes on the ball," Romero said through catcher Miguel Montero, serving as a translator. "I never expected to catch the ball, but I wanted to catch it. In that situation, it was like, I've got to dive for it or whatever. I've got to make that play." "He's just saying that. He had it all the way," Young said, jokingly. On top of his ridiculous catch in the field, Romero also had two of the D-backs' three RBIs in the game, singling in two runs in the sixth inning with the bases loaded. Since taking over for Upton on July 10, Romero is hitting .250 (11-for-44) with a homer and six RBIs. The homer was timely, as he broke up a Rich Harden no-hitter at Chase Field on July 21. "I feel a lot more comfortable now," Romero said. "It's not the same as before. It's not like I just play today and then pinch-hit tomorrow and not know when I'm going to play again. Now, I know I have the responsibility to be out there pretty much every day. You get to see a lot more pitches and that helps in different ways." As for his role when Upton comes off the disabled list? "I can't control that," Romero said. "Whatever happens happens. I'm just going to be ready for whatever the manager needs. I'll be available."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.