'Nine for Romine' moved up a day, gets green light

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers utility man Andrew Romine will play all nine positions Saturday against the Twins.

Minneapolis — Ian Kinsler poked his head into the media scrum surrounding Andrew Romine before the game and asked his own question.

“Miggy (Cabrera) wanted me to ask if you are going to retire after this year?” Kinsler said. “Are you? Because usually when guys play all nine positions they retire.”

Romine laughed. Because there is a heavy chance of rain on Sunday, the "Nine for Romine" game was moved to Saturday.

And fear not, Romine has no retirement plans. Truth is, none of the four other players who achieved the feat retired the next year, and neither will Romine. But he was fired up at the chance to put his name in the record books alongside Bert Campaneris (Sept. 8, 1965), Cesar Tovar (Sept. 22, 1968), Scott Sheldon (Sept. 6, 2000) and former Tiger Shane Halter (Oct. 1, 2000).

“Lots of excitement,” Romine said before the game. “When they told me I’d be doing it today I kind of jumped up and down a little bit. I am glad we’re finally doing it. There’s been a lot of talk about it.”

Romine, who has played eight of the nine positions already this season, including pitcher, will start in left field. Manager Brad Ausmus, at Romine’s request, wouldn’t announce the positional rotation ahead of time.

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“I don’t want to be standing out there thinking about the other positions,” Romine said. “I just want to focus on the one I am at.”

He will pitch to only one batter, and it will likely be in the sixth or seventh inning. Ausmus said he will play it by ear how long Romine will stay in at  the only position he hasn’t played in the big leagues.

“That’s the only one I got left,” he said.

His brother Austin is a catcher for the Yankees. He was asked after the Yankees' win Saturday about what his brother was attempting.

“Good luck,” he said. “When I am watching I’m going to be a little uneasy during the catching part.”

His advice to his brother was minimal.

“Everyone just keeps telling me to just catch the ball,” Andrew Romine said. “Austin was the one who said, ‘Don’t try to do anything, just put your glove in front of it, because it’s hard enough already.’”

Romine’s wife, mother and two sisters were on hand to witness. His father Kevin, a former big-leaguer, was one of the first people Romine reached out to with the news.

“He’s excited about it,” he said. “Obviously, he’s the one who taught me to play all these positions.”

The only regret Romine has is it couldn’t have been done for the fans at Comerica Park.

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“I wanted to,” he said. “We tried. I know Brad was pushing for it. He wanted it for the fans. But it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like the right time.”

Ausmus said he went back and forth on doing it in the last home game against the A’s but decided against it.

“I was a little worried doing it with a week left in the season,” he said. “I wouldn’t want it to be a circus. Now, these games are completely meaningless. We can’t lose 100 games and the focus is already shifting from the regular season to the postseason  there won’t be as much attention paid to it.”

As for those on social media griping about it being a charade and a farce, Ausmus said, “Find something better to tweet about.”

What this is about, from Ausmus’ point of view, is a show of respect and a reward for Romine.

“Only four people have done it and he gets to put his name in the record book,” Ausmus said. “He’s always been a role player, whether he comes in for defense, giving a starter a day off or pinch-running.

“He rarely gets the spotlight.”

He got it Saturday.

Twitter: @cmccosky