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Starter, reliever, both? Romano up for any role

Righty aiming for rotation but willing to do whatever to help Reds win
December 19, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Since taking over as Reds manager in October, David Bell has been non-committal about roles for some players -- namely the rotation and bullpen. For right-handed pitcher Sal Romano, that means wanting one spot but preparing for both possibilities."I'm going to go for the rotation as I did

CINCINNATI -- Since taking over as Reds manager in October, David Bell has been non-committal about roles for some players -- namely the rotation and bullpen. For right-handed pitcher Sal Romano, that means wanting one spot but preparing for both possibilities.
"I'm going to go for the rotation as I did last year and the year before that," Romano said. "I usually come into Spring Training ready to go. I will have that same mentality. I think last year, I did prove that I could do both. I will do whatever the Reds want, as long as I'm in the big leagues and helping this team win. That's most important to me."
Romano, 25, has shown glimpses of what he's capable of as a starter but hasn't been able to break out and cement his role in the rotation. Over the last two seasons, he is 12-18 with a 5.07 ERA in his 41 starts. That included 7-10 with a 5.48 ERA in 25 starts in 2018.
For the first time in the big leagues last season, Romano also experienced pitching out of the bullpen and had some success while posting a 3.77 ERA in 14 relief appearances. That included working 2 1/3 scoreless innings for a win at Milwaukee on Sept. 18 after he took over for that night's starter, Michael Lorenzen.
With starters having shorter outings throughout the Major Leagues in 2018, bullpen flexibility has become paramount. The notion of a swing man capable of working in both roles could wind up fitting Romano nicely.

Romano's clothes might not fit quite as well these days after he dropped 15 pounds already this offseason. At 6-foot-5, he is usually at or over 270 pounds but is now at 260. He's achieved the better fitness through eating healthier and doing more cardio at the gym during his workouts.
"I'm trying to get into the gym as much as possible," Romano said. "This is a big year for me to come into Spring Training, regardless of what I'm doing -- bullpen, starting or both. I need to be in the best possible shape to do that.
"I'm going to see how I feel when I start throwing and see how my arm responds and my body reacts. If I need to put a little bit more weight on, I'll do that, but I really was determined to lose some weight this offseason. I can really see it benefiting my game with mobility and stuff like that."
Romano has spoken with Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson, who became the first coach on the Reds' new staff when he was hired away from the Brewers after their strong postseason run. Romano is looking forward to working with Johnson in 2019.
"[Johnson] seems like he has it all figured out right now with what he wants to do here in Cincinnati. I think us players are very excited for that," Romano said. "Just from seeing what the Brewers did, he obviously is doing something right over there with the success he had, and at the college level as well [at Vanderbilt]. I'm really excited to sit down with him and figure out what's best for me and to make some changes to improve my game. Information from new coaches is always good to help your game."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.