Romero looks sharp in competitive debut

J.C. Romero faced four hitters today, striking out two. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

It was supposed to be J.C. Romero's first game since elbow surgery, but a day-long thunder storm that finished its trek through the Tampa Bay area this morning wiped out the minor league Phillies' tilt against the Yankees. Instead, Romero faced a team filled with Phillies prospects, and looked much sharper than even he expected.

Romero faced four batters and did not allow a ball out of the infield, recording two strikeouts, one of them against top prospect Domonic Brown.

"My command was better than I thought it was going to be," Romero said. "I guess me being older, it gives me a better understanding of what I need to do to get ahead of the hitters."

That being said, Tuesday will be a big day for Romero as his body responds to its first competitive situation since late September. Romero said he did not take any anti-inflammatories prior to the outing. He also simulated an up-and-down warm-up prior to the game, throwing a set of pitches, sitting down, and then throwing another set.

Romero did not throw any of his sliders, instead mixing in his curveball, change-up and four-seamer with his sinker.

"I've got to make sure that I feel OK tomorrow without taking any anti-inflammatorries or anything like that," Romero said. "That's the key thing. Today I went what we call naked. We don't take any pills, nothing. We just let our body recover to see how we feel tomorrow, and then when we play catch, we know how we feel. All I can think about is how well it went today, and I will let you guys know how I feel tomorrow."

Romero said he thought a return by the Phillies' first homestand was still possible. Although he is technically behind closer Brad Lidge (elbow, knee) in his progression, he looked sharper yesterday than Lidge did in either of his first two minor league outings.

"To me it's not a matter of whatever outcome I get pitching in a game, it's how I recover the next day," Romero said. "That's one of the reasons why I am taking it one step at a time, because if I'm not capable of going back-to-back days, I don't think I am healthy enough to compete at the level that I want to compete. I'll take it one day at a time, but today was very good and I am very Happy about everything that went on today."