Romine Maturing As A Hitter

TRENTON, NJ - It is a much-used baseball cliché, but Trenton Thunder catcher Austin Romine seems to have 'staying within himself' down to a science. For all the attention paid to him, no matter how pressured-filled his situation is, Romine remains disciplined, focused, fearless, and confident.

"It's definitely not a distraction. I have to play somewhere whether it's Double-A, Triple-A or the majors," Austin Romine said of being back in the Eastern League. "And another thing they told me is we can take you from Double-A. [Yankees manager Joe] Girardi was, [Francisco] Cervelli was taken from Double-A last year.

"So going up there [to big league camp] and proving I could catch big league pitchers was important. And they told me they can call me anytime. So I'm fine here because I have somewhere to play, I get to help out our young pitchers, and I get to build relationships with them, and like I said I just want to play everyday."

Romine, 22, has begun 2011 on a strong note. There is a noticeable difference in his patience at the plate and it shows in the numbers as well. He's drawn six walks in eight games.

"He found out, as all guys find out, that as you go up there are less and less at-bats you can waste and still be good," said Thunder hitting coach Julius Matos. "His goal is to not waste any at-bats day in and day out. I think he's drawing a lot of walks and taking a lot of pitches. [The number of walks] is a sign of a good hitter. He's taking his walks, he's not swinging at bad pitches."

Romine's early season work behind the plate has included catching major league veteran Kevin Millwood when he pitched for the Thunder recently. Millwood praised the young backstop.

"I thought he worked well back there," Millwood said. "He moves well, blocked the ball. He got a good idea of what I was trying to do."

Romine went into spring training with specific goals on defense.

"I wanted to go down there and prove that if I was put in a big league game that I could. I went there to accomplish certain things and I did. I think I did that.

"The main focus was to reassure them I could catch at the big league level. When I left I had no reservations about being put in a big league [game] and that was big for me. I really wanted to be the backup, but sometimes there's a plan and my plan is to play here right now."

His father helped him embrace that plan. Kevin Romine's major league career included plenty of ups and downs and he was able to help his son through the spring when questions were everywhere regarding the role of Yankees backup catcher.

"He's been through it too," Romine added. "He was with the Red Sox and went through not making the club out of spring training, making it out of spring training. He knows what I was going through there. He understands situations. He just said go play hard wherever you are."

There aren't many questions about Romine's ability as a catcher. He has to become a better hitter and that's something he's doing everything possible to make happen.

"I worked with Kevin Long in big league camp on my swing and figured out what I needed to do. We worked on drills that give me a certain routine that I take care of," he added. "I finished strong at spring training and it has carried over.

"It's the beginning and everyone is getting settled. I know what to expect and that makes it easier for me. I feel like a more complete hitter than I was last year. I feel I'm more intelligent at the plate."

His physicality is also conducive to developing into a hitter that can do more than just put the ball in play. Matos feels Romine is capable of hitting a few out.

"He has a big frame, he's a big kid, he'll get a little stronger as he goes up," Matos said. "He definitely has a lot of power in his bat. With his swing and the way he approaches things, he likes to hit a lot of line drives, so it's a give and take.

"He's got the ability to be a really good hitter and hit some power and drive some balls in the gap. He's got the ability to hit some home runs."

Matos points out that part of the process in Romine becoming a better hitter is his approach in order to become more consistent and successful each time he has the bat.

"He really needs to develop his at-bats in a professional way. Taking his at-bats one by one and making adjustments."

As for the walks, Romine cuts to the chase.

"I think the anxiousness is gone. I learned my lesson lasts year," he said.

He finished 2010 hitting .268 with 10 home runs and 37 walks. It was an uneven season. At times he struggled to pull himself out of an offensive funk, but he showed he was getting it as the season came to a close.

"I had a great first half, was pretty bad in the middle and finished strong. They told me they want me to have a complete season and put it all together," Romine said. "And that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to be consistent and put a good season together."

That's the bottom line. Each at-bat, each game, one by one, his maturity is clear in how he handles himself. Romine is appreciating the need for patience to go along with that trademark aggression. He's an intense player, but now becoming a smarter one and his goals reflect that.

"At the plate, I'd like to hit .300 for the season. But right now I'm content with just having a good approach at the plate. The more quality at-bats I have the better."

Matos has confidence in Romine to put that all together.

"He knows what he's doing at the plate. More than anything what he needs right now is just experience, more professional at-bats. If he keeps going the way he is, there's nothing stopping him from being a very productive major league hitter," Matos concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's definitely not a distraction. I have to play somewhere whether \r\nit's Double-A, Triple-A or the majors,\" Austin Romine said of being back in the Eastern League. \"And another thing they told me \r\nis we can take you from Double-A. [Yankees manager Joe] Girardi was, \r\n[Francisco] Cervelli was taken from Double-A last year.
\r\n
\r\n\"So going up \r\nthere [to big league camp] and proving I could catch big league pitchers was important. And \r\nthey told me they can call me anytime. So I'm fine here because I have \r\nsomewhere to play, I get to help out our young pitchers, and I get to \r\nbuild relationships with them, and like I said I just want to play \r\neveryday.\"
\r\n
\r\nRomine, 22, has begun 2011 on a strong note. There is a noticeable \r\ndifference in his patience at the plate and it shows in the numbers as \r\nwell. He's drawn six walks in eight games.
\r\n
\r\n\"He found out, as all guys find out, that as you go up there are less \r\nand less at-bats you can waste and still be good,\" said Thunder hitting \r\ncoach Julius Matos. \"His goal is to not waste any at-bats day in and \r\nday out. I think he's drawing a lot of walks and taking a lot of \r\npitches. [The number of walks] is a sign of a good hitter. He's taking \r\nhis walks, he's not swinging at bad pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nRomine's early season work behind the plate has included catching major \r\nleague veteran Kevin Millwood when he pitched for the Thunder recently. \r\nMillwood praised the young backstop.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thought he worked well back there,\" Millwood said. \"He moves well, blocked the ball. \r\nHe got a good idea of what I was trying to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nRomine went into spring training with specific goals on defense.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wanted to go down there and prove that if I was put in a big league \r\ngame that I could. I went there to accomplish certain things and I did. \r\nI think I did that.
\r\n
\r\n\"The main focus was to reassure them I could catch \r\nat the big league level. When I left I had no reservations about being \r\nput in a big league [game] and that was big for me. I really wanted to be the \r\nbackup, but sometimes there's a plan and my plan is to play here right \r\nnow.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis father helped him embrace that plan. Kevin Romine's major league \r\ncareer included plenty of ups and downs and he was able to help his son \r\nthrough the spring when questions were everywhere regarding the role of \r\nYankees backup catcher.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been through it too,\" Romine added. \"He was with the Red Sox and went through not \r\nmaking the club out of spring training, making it out of spring \r\ntraining. He knows what I was going through there. He understands \r\nsituations. He just said go play hard wherever you are.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere aren't many questions about Romine's ability as a catcher. He has \r\nto become a better hitter and that's something he's doing everything \r\npossible to make happen.
\r\n
\r\n\"I worked with Kevin Long in big league camp on my swing and figured \r\nout what I needed to do. We worked on drills that give me a certain \r\nroutine that I take care of,\" he added. \"I finished strong at spring training and \r\nit has carried over.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's the beginning and everyone is getting \r\nsettled. I know what to expect and that makes it easier for me. I feel \r\nlike a more complete hitter than I was last year. I feel I'm more \r\nintelligent at the plate.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis physicality is also conducive to developing into a hitter that can \r\ndo more than just put the ball in play. Matos feels Romine is capable \r\nof hitting a few out.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has a big frame, he's a big kid, he'll get a little stronger as he \r\ngoes up,\" Matos said. \"He definitely has a lot of power in his bat. With his swing \r\nand the way he approaches things, he likes to hit a lot of line drives, \r\nso it's a give and take.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's got the ability to be a really good \r\nhitter and hit some power and drive some balls in the gap. He's got the \r\nability to hit some home runs.\"
\r\n
\r\nMatos points out that part of the process in Romine becoming a better \r\nhitter is his approach in order to become more consistent and \r\nsuccessful each time he has the bat.
\r\n
\r\n\"He really needs to develop his at-bats in a professional way. Taking \r\nhis at-bats one by one and making adjustments.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs for the walks, Romine cuts to the chase.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the anxiousness is gone. I learned my lesson lasts year,\" he \r\nsaid.
\r\n
\r\nHe finished 2010 hitting .268 with 10 home runs and 37 walks. It was an \r\nuneven season. At times he struggled to pull himself out of an \r\noffensive funk, but he showed he was getting it as the season came to a \r\nclose.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a great first half, was pretty bad in the middle and finished \r\nstrong. They told me they want me to have a complete season and put it \r\nall together,\" Romine said. \"And that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to be \r\nconsistent and put a good season together.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat's the bottom line. Each at-bat, each game, one by one, his \r\nmaturity is clear in how he handles himself. Romine is appreciating \r\nthe need for patience to go along with that trademark aggression. He's \r\nan intense player, but now becoming a smarter one and his goals reflect \r\nthat.
\r\n
\r\n\"At the plate, I'd like to hit .300 for the season. But right now I'm \r\ncontent with just having a good approach at the plate. The more quality \r\nat-bats I have the better.\"
\r\n
\r\nMatos has confidence in Romine to put that all together.
\r\n
\r\n\"He knows what he's doing at the plate. More than anything what he \r\nneeds right now is just experience, more professional at-bats. If he \r\nkeeps going the way he is, there's nothing stopping him from being a \r\nvery productive major league hitter,\" Matos concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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