by Adonis Dees
GLENDALE, Ariz. — His grandparents would be proud that relief pitcher Sergio Romo is now a Los Angeles Dodger.
Romo grew up in Southern California in Brawley, about a three-hour drive from Dodger Stadium. As a kid, he and his family were big Dodgers fans.
But it was team’s arch enemy, the San Francisco Giants, who drafted Romo in 2005. He had to build up the courage to even tell his family when he learned the Giants had taken him in the 28th round back then.
Calling his grandfather Evaristo Romo was especially difficult.
“My grandpa, who passed away last year, he was the biggest one — the biggest Dodgers fan out of all of them,” Romo said.
“The day I got drafted, I called him and let him know I got drafted. And I didn’t tell him what team it was right away. He asked me what team and I was like, ‘uh, that’s the thing.’
“And he goes, ‘anybody but the Giants,’ and I was like, ‘welp, a foot in the door, right?’ ”
Romo kicked the door down, winning three World Series championships with San Francisco. But after nine seasons in the Bay Area, it was time for a change.
Romo signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers on Feb. 15, not long before pitchers and catchers reported to the team’s Camelback Ranch facility.
Romo said his decision to wear Dodgers blue came down to two factors. And money wasn’t one of them.
“From a baseball standpoint, I wanted to win,” Romo said. “I wanted to go to a place where there’s a legit opportunity to win and they already had that going on here without me. I’m at the point of my career where rings is really all that matters.
“But off the field, personally, (I did it) for my family.”
He reportedly took less money to sign with the Dodgers than he could have received from other clubs.
From the day he joined the Dodgers, the charismatic Romo fit in. Once an enemy, he is now an ally.
“He’s Mr. Personality, you know,” pitcher Alex Wood said. “He’s always smiling and cracking jokes. It’s definitely different seeing him in a Dodgers uniform. He’s been playing with the Giants for so long. But he’s definitely a welcomed addition, and he should be a big piece for us.”
It doesn’t hurt that he has a championship pedigree and veteran wisdom, either.
“He definitely likes to talk, and it’s good to hear from a guy like that who’s had so much success,” Dodgers reliever Grant Dayton said. “So I’m all ears when it comes to listening to him. It will be good to have him around.”
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said Romo has a serious side when it matters.
“He’s got a big personality, likes to have fun,” Kershaw said. “But we have seen him from the other side. We know how good he is, and we’re excited to have him.”
Even though Romo is new to the team, he doesn’t have to change who he is to fit in.
“I’m a happy dude,” Romo said. “I want to share that happiness with them and share my experiences. I’m grateful to have a job.”
Romo turns 34 Saturday, a few days after a Cactus League reunion with the Giants in Scottsdale. The most recent memory of Romo’s impressive Giants career is striking out Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera in the 2012 World Series.
When he signed with the Dodgers, the Giants thanked him on Twitter for his time with the team.
Inspired by his family’s love for all things Dodgers, he hopes to leave a similar memory with his new club. Romo lost three grandparents last season in a three-month span. He will be thinking of them as he comes out of the bullpen for the team they loved, especially his grandfather Evaristo.
“At least now I’m pretty sure he’s smiling that I’ll be wearing that blue for him,” Romo said.