04/08/10 2:08 AM ET
Romero, Wilson set for lefty duel in Texas
An old-fashioned left-handed pitching duel is shaping up in Texas on Thursday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with Toronto giving up-and-coming Ricky Romero the ball and the Rangers relying on former closer C.J. Wilson, who has returned to the starting game.
Romero, 25, burst on the scene as a rookie last year and went 13-9 with a 4.30 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 178 innings. Part of what helped him was watching and learning from former Toronto ace Roy Halladay. Now the Blue Jays are eager to see what the Los Angeles native can accomplish in a full season of 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings, and Thursday's rubber match in this three-game set will be the beginning.
"He's always sweating every time I see him," Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton said recently. "He's doing every bit of what you want a starting pitcher to do. He loves watching film. He loves preparing for games. He probably picked up on a lot of things that [Halladay] did by being in the same rotation as [Halladay]. In the game, you take a little bit from everybody."
It remains to be seen what Wilson will take from spending the past four seasons as a relief pitcher after starting six games in his rookie year of 2005. He was a starter in the Minor Leagues and worked all spring on remembering when to throw the right pitch from his arsenal of fastball, changeup, cutter and slider.
"Tomorrow is just another turn in the rotation from Spring Training," Wilson said Wednesday. "It will be nice pitching at home. I like pitching at home. The end of the season is what I'm working for. This is just one start, but I want to try and get some momentum going."
Blue Jays: Romero looks to build off rookie season
Romero pitched well in one start against the Rangers last year, although he took the loss. Romero went 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits while striking out six and not walking anyone. ... Closer Jason Frasor blew the first game of the season but bounced back Wednesday to convert a save and help the Blue Jays even the series heading into Thursday. "He went back out and got the job done and good for him," manager Cito Gaston said. "It's not going to hurt him. It's certainly going to help his confidence."
Rangers: Wilson returns to starting
Wilson hasn't started against Toronto, but he's faced the Jays plenty of times as a reliever. Last year, he pitched in five games against the Blue Jays and gave up one run in four innings while striking out six. ... Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who's on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle, will likely not return to the club before the end of the current homestand. "It would take a miracle," manager Ron Washington said. "We're going to go a day at a time. We certainly can't stand here and say when."
Gaston is set on sticking with first baseman Lyle Overbay in an everyday role and won't pinch-hit for him in crucial late-inning situations. "Let me tell you this right now," Gaston said Wednesday. "Overbay is going to play against left-handers. So why would I pinch-hit for him? He's going to play against left-handers. So that ends that." ... Washington said he's sticking with rookie right-hander Neftali Feliz as his eighth-inning man despite a rough outing on Opening Day. "He had a rough first time out, but he'll get a chance to get back out there," Washington said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.