Tigers' Romine feels effects from rare relief outing

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers' Andrew Romine pitched in the ninth inning of Wednesday's blowout loss to the Royals.

Detroit — Kathryn Romine jokingly poked her husband in the back on Thursday morning and was quite surprised that he yelped in pain.

Her husband has played 462 games in the Major Leagues. He has played every position except catcher. Normally, he wakes up without any major attending soreness from the game the night before. But on Wednesday night, for just the third time in his career, he pitched. And the entire shoulder area — the lat, rotator cuff, you name it — was barking the next morning.

“Man, I just kind of cringed and said I needed some Advil or whatever,” Andrew Romine said.

He threw 21 pitches in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 16-2 loss to the Royals. He’s here to tell you, it’s not as easy as it may look.

“Let’s say you are in left field and you have to throw the ball five times really hard, that would be a lot,” said Romine, trying to explain the toll pitching takes on an unconditioned arm. “I threw 21 pitches and I wasn’t just tossing them up there. It’s not like I wasn’t putting any effort into it, I really was.

“I wasn’t throwing as hard as I could because I probably would’ve blown my shoulder out. I am not in pitching shape to go out and throw really hard over and over. But I was putting effort into it.”

Throwing off a mound, too, takes a different toll on the lower body than making throws on flat ground.

“Yeah, my legs are tired from trying to drive off that mound,” Romine said. “Throwing downhill is totally different. There are different muscles that you have to activate. After a while I got tired. Mac (catcher James McCann) was trying to slow me down and calm me down. I just wanted to get it over with.”

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He threw all fastballs between 77 and 85 mph. He walked Brandon Moss, gave up a single to Ramon Torres, gave a sacrifice fly to Alex Gordon, hit Drew Butera and got Whit Merrifield to fly out to the warning track in right field.

Romine has not given up a run, and just one hit in his last two outings — two-thirds of an inning last season and two-thirds of an inning Wednesday. The first time he pitched in a game, 2014, he gave up three runs, including two home runs.

“It’s always fun, but given the circumstances, losing isn’t fun,” he said. “Getting your butt kicked isn’t fun. Nobody wants to be out there. You’re not thinking, ‘This is going to be great; going to be so much fun.’

“But inside, there is a lot of excitement and anxiety.”

The anxiety comes from wanting to get through the inning without embarrassing yourself, for sure. But more importantly, Romine said, you don’t want to hurt anybody.

“I don’t want to hurt myself and I don’t want to hurt any of their players,” he said. “I grazed Butera and the first thing, my heart was racing. I don’t want to hurt somebody just because I can’t control a pitch.

“It’s different. In this atmosphere and at this level, there are a lot of eyes on you, a lot of cameras, and there’s a lot of money out there in the other players. They are in a (playoff) race right now. They still have a shot, so I don’t want to hurt somebody and have them not be able to play the rest of the year.”

Romine can throw a curveball. He threw a couple in his 2014 outing. But there was no way he was going to risk it on Wednesday.

“I was trying to throw it straight, but the ball kept moving,” he said. “I don’t practice (throwing breaking balls) enough to throw it confidently. I just tried to stay away from people and get it over the plate and don’t walk everybody.”

It’s not that it’s old hat to him now, this whole pitching thing, but his heart rate was much calmer than the first time he stood on a big-league mound at Target Field.

“The excitement and anxiety I felt, it rivaled the first day I got called up,” Romine said. “I haven’t pitched since high school. To be out there, it felt like I was 20 feet in the air on that mound and falling down.

“It’s fun. I feel like a kid when I am out there. I just wish it was in better circumstances.”

Twitter: @cmccosky