Romine excelling in Sanchez's absence

Yankees catcher has career-high five RBIs in win over Orioles

April 29th, 2017

NEW YORK -- always believed that he could handle regular catching duties in the big leagues, but the trick was convincing everyone else. That's why, on what might have been his best day as a pro, the Yankees' catcher said that he still carries what he calls "a positive chip" on his shoulder.

Romine homered and enjoyed a career-high five RBIs in the Yankees' 12-4 victory over the Orioles on Saturday at Yankee Stadium, a victory that vaulted New York into sole possession of first place in the American League East. With having been sidelined for the last three weeks, Romine has served as one of the team's rocks.

"It means a lot to me, because I can show what I'm worth to the team and help the guys out when I can," Romine said. "I'm just trying to fill in and do my job. Things are going well right now, but all you want to do as a backup player who gets thrust into that kind of position is do well for the team and show them you belong, and to be a part of this."

The son of former big leaguer Kevin Romine and brother of Tigers infielder , pinstripes are all that Romine has known as a pro, though his career reached a crossroads when the club designated him for assignment prior to the 2015 season. His name passed through the waiver wire unclaimed and, stung by those rejections, Romine vowed to prove everyone wrong.

"It's a positive chip. Sometimes you can put a negative one up there and it can go against you in certain ways," Romine said. "I just put a positive one up there. I know what I can do when I stay within myself. I just want to help this team win games, and right now, that's all I'm trying to do."

Romine's reputation was that of a defensive backstop, which is a gentle way of saying he was an easy out at the plate. Tired of that label, Romine said that he focused on slowing the game down and playing to his strengths, something that has helped him enjoy more productive at-bats.

"He's a guy who's capable of playing every single day," said. "He just hasn't gotten the opportunity here with [Brian McCann] and now Gary, but he's a guy that I've known for a long time. He works really, really, really hard and has continued to get better every year."

Romine believes that a catcher's priority must be defense, and the Yankees are pleased with how he has handled the pitching staff. New York has won 12 of his 14 starts behind the plate, and Romine's 3.39 catcher's ERA (CERA) through Saturday ranks as the AL's best.

"He's done a really good job with our pitching staff," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's very bright and he knows what he's doing back there. … Obviously Sanchy is our No. 1 guy here, but Romine has played excellent. He could be a No. 1, too. I believe in the kid. He's played really, really well."

So well, in fact, that Romine became the first Yankees No. 9 hitter with at least five RBIs in a game since Girardi on Aug. 23, 1999, at Texas. Sanchez is scheduled to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday, but as Romine prepares to head back to the bench, he is satisfied with what he has shown.

"I never thought I'd be starting for the Yankees," Romine said. "I'm taking every day as a gift and enjoying the hell out of it."