by Katie Woo
GLENDALE Ariz. — For new Dodgers reliever Sergio Romo, it’s all about being wanted.
Being wanted by a mentor was just a cherry on top.
Romo, who turns 34 this week, left the Giants as a free agent and signed a one-year contract for the Dodgers for this season. The right-hander is united with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The two have known each other since Romo broke into the majors with the Giants in 2008. Gonzalez was with the Padres then.
“He was always a lending hand to me, he always gave me good advice on what to expect so that things wouldn’t catch me by surprise,” Romo said. “He’s always been kind of a big brother to me. He talks to me like a man and he holds me accountable to the things that I’ve done.”
Gonzalez acknowledged letting the Dodgers front office know Romo was a good guy to pursue.
“I told the (front office) he was interested. My brother (Edgar Gonzalez) was managing him in winter ball so there was a lot of communication there,” Gonzalez said. “I was excited, I was trying to talk to him and the ownership about bringing him over and it was good when I heard the news.”
Romo said: “I really appreciate the way he’s come at me. He was a big part of getting me to come this way this year. It’s a good feeling, the feeling of being wanted, and being visible to your peers, even if they’re opponents.”
(Video by Guillermo Salcido/Cronkite News)
Romo and Gonzalez have spent most of their respective careers as rivals in the N.L. West. They first became teammates during the 2013 World Baseball Classic with Team Mexico. Romo and Gonzalez are teammates again on Mexico for this month’s WBC. Edgar Gonzalez is managing the team.
“Adrian, Edgar, that whole family has treated me very well,” Romo reflected. “They’ve shown me respect that I didn’t necessarily know that I deserved from them.”
Up until this year, Romo had spent his entire nine-year career as a Giant. Gonzalez has spent a combined eight seasons in the NL West as a Padre and a Dodger. The two have faced each other 16 times. Gonzalez is 3-for-14 off Romo, with one extra-base hit (a double), no RBIs, two strikeouts and two walks.
Romo won three world championship rings with San Francisco, and he will pursue a fourth with a packed Los Angeles roster. He may have even more motivation this year, as he grew up a Dodgers fan and comes from a family of them. Romo has caught flak for changing sides in a major rivalry, but the support of Gonzalez has helped tremendously.
“The fact that he feels I contribute to a team that was already a winner in my books, it’s a good feeling,” Romo said.
“To have a guy like him on my side, in my corner to push me and to urge me to come to a winning cause is definitely a good feeling. Again, the feeling of being wanted, it really doesn’t get any better than that.”