PEORIA, Ariz. – When Stefen Romero was 5 years old, a little twist of fate steered him initially to baseball.
“My mom was going to sign me up for flag football and we actually missed the deadline,” he said. “She said, ‘Well, baseball season is almost at the same time.’ So she signed me up for that instead.”
Romero never did play football after becoming an immediate, well, hit on the diamond, good enough to later land a scholarship at Oregon State.
There, another unexpected turn – one that at first seemed potentially ominous – helped lead him to the Seattle Mariners.
A couple of weeks before the 2010 Major League draft, Romero suffered a broken bone in his elbow diving back to first base in a game against Arizona State.
Romero was pegged by many analysts as likely to go somewhere in the middle-to-latter part of the first 10 rounds. But with many teams suddenly a little leery because of his injury – he was then playing primarily third base – he fell to the 12th round, where the Mariners took him with the 372nd pick.
Romero said he’ll never know for sure if the injury caused his stock to fall, though he says at the time he wondered “am I even going to get drafted? Once I got drafted, a huge burden was lifted, definitely.”
And now, Romero is right where he hoped he would always be, fighting for a spot on a major-league roster.
The 25-year-old is one of seven outfielders left in Seattle’s major-league camp after the team sent James Jones and Xavier Avery to Tacoma on Friday as it pared its roster to 40.
Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Corey Hart and Michael Saunders will likely fill four of the spots, but nothing is certain, and even assuming those four make it would leave a spot for one more (others in camp are non-roster invitees Endy Chavez and Cole Gillespie).
“He’s certainly in the mix,” manager Lloyd McClendon said Saturday of Romero. “I think we all know our need and desire for right-handed bats throughout the lineup.”
Romero’s played that role well of late, with nine hits in his last 19 at-bats including two home runs – one coming Friday night against Colorado.
Giants 13, Mariners 6: Juan Perez hit a solo home run and Hector Sanchez had two hits and an RBI as a San Francisco split squad pounded out 16 hits with a lineup of mostly backups and roster hopefuls in a win over Seattle on Saturday in Peoria.
Mariners starter James Paxton allowed two earned runs on six hits, one a home run, and was charged with an error for a wild throw to first base in the second inning.
The Mariners committed four errors in the game. Veteran relievers Fernando Rodney and Tom Wilhelmsen were charged with a combined seven earned runs on seven hits in two-thirds of an inning.