SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Several days ago, Ricky Romero entered the Giants' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium and encountered a beautiful sight. It was his locker, with a jersey that bore his surname hanging in it.To Romero, it was a still-life masterpiece. It gave him what he called "instant goosebumps" while representing
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Several days ago, Ricky Romero entered the Giants' clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium and encountered a beautiful sight. It was his locker, with a jersey that bore his surname hanging in it.
To Romero, it was a still-life masterpiece. It gave him what he called "instant goosebumps" while representing hope and opportunity -- his hope of reviving his Major League career and the opportunity to make it happen.
Ideally, Romero ought to be thriving. He's a 31-year-old left-hander with a 2011 American League All-Star selection on his resume. But surgeries on both knees, which he underwent in '14, derailed him. Bringing Romero into Spring Training as a non-roster invitee is a low-risk gamble for the Giants, who reason that his absence of arm trouble bodes well for a possible comeback.
The Giants won't rush Romero, who signed a Minor League contract. Baseball's laws of attrition suggest that they'll need reinforcements for the pitching staff at some juncture this season. Maybe they'll want to summon one of their prospects. Or maybe they'll prefer a performer like Romero, who has proven capable of succeeding.
"You've got to have depth," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said Friday. "Our hope is that if we can get him healthy, he can be a spark for us."
Romero's 51-45 career record, including 42-29 with Toronto in his first three seasons, induced the Giants to sign him last May after the Blue Jays released him. Romero made four starts for the Giants' Rookie-level Arizona League affiliate, working eight innings and posting an 0-2 record with a 5.62 ERA. But he believes that he'll begin to demonstrate improvement after having additional time to recover from the twin surgeries on his quadriceps tendons.
As a free agent during this past offseason, Romero could have signed with anybody. But he felt obligated to stick with the Giants organization.
"They took a chance on me last year, a chance to let me rehab, and I want to pay them back," Romero said. "Hopefully I get that chance. I still feel like I have a lot in me."
In 2012, Romero's record plunged to 9-14, one year after he finished 15-11. His '11 ERA of 2.92 nearly doubled to 5.77. His knees began nagging him, though he didn't admit it publicly.
"I kind of brushed it aside," Romero said. "I've never been someone to make excuses. It took a toll on me, not only physically, but also mentally. ... I went wrong, trying to be brave and push through it, trying to show everyone that I was good enough to pitch. In the end, I ended up hurting myself more than anything."
Romero said that sheer wear and tear accounted for his knee problems.
"The doctor asked me if I ran a lot on concrete. I've been running on concrete my whole life," said the Southern Californian, who hastened his downfall by running up and down ballpark aisles as a big leaguer.
Romero's ready for a fresh ascent.
"You just feel good that there's a locker here and you still have a chance to play this game," he said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.