Aug 132010

August 12 Philadelphia Daily News

“The Braves have Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

The Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith.

The Dodgers have Andre Ethier and James Loney.

At some point, the Phillies will need to figure out a way to consistently retire lefthanded hitters.

Problem is, one of their few options is struggling. J.C. Romero has retired only one of the previous eight batters he has faced. In his last three games, he has allowed five runs, two home runs and three walks while hitting a batter and striking out one.

Romero said yesterday that he is healthy. The veteran lefty caught manager Charlie Manuel’s attention with some comments to the media after the Phillies’ 15-9 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday, when Romero walked one, hit a batter and allowed a two-run homer. He told several media outlets after the performance that his hand felt “lazy” and he mentioned the possibility of scar tissue breaking up in his elbow. This led Manuel to theorize yesterday that perhaps Romero is experiencing a sensation in his fingers while gripping the ball, which is often a sign of elbow problems.

But Romero emphasized yesterday that nothing is physically wrong.

“My arm is fine,” said Romero, who missed the first month of the season after offseason surgery to repair his flexor tendon.

The Phillies concurred.

“He’s not on the disabled list so it’s just something he’s going to have to work through,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Romero said the problem is that his hand feels like it is moving slower than his arm, which is affecting his control.

“In the beginning, when I first came off the DL, I didn’t have much arm speed,” Romero said. “It was easy for my hand to catch up. Now, my arm is getting a little faster so I need to make sure that my hand is following it the right way. Being consistent every time I throw a pitch so I don’t come around the ball.”

The Phillies need him to figure it out. Last year, they had no shortage of lefthanded pitchers to keep teams off-balance. But starters Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer and J.A. Happ are gone, as is veteran lefty specialist Scott Eyre. That leaves Cole Hamels as the only lefty starter and Romero and 24-year-old Antonio Bastardo as the only lefty relievers.”

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