Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A September Chat with ... Austin Romine

Thanks to a recommendation from ESPN's Andrew Marchand on Twitter this morning, I've gained more than 70 new followers over the last few hours. With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to give them a taste of the kind of stuff they can expect once the minor league season gets going again. 

I spoke to a bunch of former Thunder players at Yankee Stadium this September, and they had some interesting things to say about their time with Trenton, their 2011 season, and a variety of other topics. 

First up is Austin Romine, one the Yankees' top catching prospects. With Jesus Montero seemingly marooned at Scranton all of last year, Romine was bumped back into a repeat of Double-A until a late-season call-up. 

Once S/W-B's season finished, it seemed for a while that Romine's did too. Then Francisco Cervelli got hurt, opening the door for Romine's big break. Here's what he had to say about that moment, plus a few other things along the way. 

Additionally, I take a lot of videos of these players throughout the season, so here's Romine's single off of Altoona's Aaron Pribanic from the Eastern League All-Star Game, held in Manchester, NH, home of the Fisher Cats. 

JN: Being a West Coast kid, it must have been nice to break in out there. Had you ever been to SafeCo before?

AR: No, I had never been there before. It’s a really nice field, really nice town. It was cool. My first start was in Seattle, everything first was in Seattle, but my debut was in Anaheim.

JN: Obviously that was a really publicized moment, considering your brother was playing for the Angels and your parents were on hand.

AR: You can’t write it any better than that. To be called up to be in your first big league game at home where you grew up with your family and friends – I had like 40 people at the game – with my brother on the other team, it was a really good moment for me.

JN: When I saw that Cervelli went down with the injury in California, my first thought was, ‘OK, Romine’s probably going to get the call here, because he’s probably in the stands as it is.’

AR: It’s the first time in September that I haven’t been in LA. I was (in Kentucky) visiting my girl out there. She’s going to school out there, so I was out there with her.

JN: At the University of Kentucky?

AR: No, Northern Kentucky. I drove from Scranton, so it was only like 10 hours, so I figured I’d drive there before I drove home.

JN: Yeah, ONLY ten hours.

AR: That’s not that bad, considering I was about to drive three days. Then I got a call, and it was the best call of my life, then I got on a plane and now I’m here.

JN:  Now you’re here, playing against the Red Sox, which was your dad’s team growing up. Did you root for Boston as a kid?

AR: I did. For the most part I was actually an Angels fan, back when they had (Troy) Glaus and (Tim) Salmon, (David) Eckstein, (Darin) Erstad and all those guys, but that’s where I grew up. I grew up watching them.

JN: How many guys in the other clubhouse did you grow up watching?

AR: All of them. When I was in high school I used to watch them. I used to watch Yankees and Red Sox all the time -- that was a big thing even out on the West Coast, so I grew up watching all those guys.

JN: With you being a catcher, it must be even more special having Yogi Berra on hand here today.

AR: I actually ran into Yogi over where we eat, said hi and talked to him for a second. He’s really short, but just to see him and be around him is pretty cool.

JN: That’s probably the kind of guy you’d want to model your career after, with his 10 World Series rings.

AR: I’d be happy if I get one, that’d be awesome. As many as I can get, that’s the plan.

JN: Considering what you’ve gone through this year, with the concussion and the back injury, did you think this promotion was even a possibility?

AR: I really, really didn’t. I figured I’d go up to Scranton and just finish the year. They’d give me some time there and maybe I’d go back next year, who know what happens in spring training. I thought they were just going to give me some time (at Scranton) And then with the back thing, it was lingering but it was fine. I was excited to get a full offseason in – I’d never had that before.

JN: Now that it’s passed, was the concussion more than you might have let on to us at the time?

AR: Now that it’s passed, yeah. It was a little bit worse than maybe I’d let on, but I’d never had a concussion so I didn’t know what to expect. I was telling you guys the truth every single day. You know that I’m not one to lie. I tell it how it is, I hope I have that track record over the past two years when I was in Trenton.

Yeah, it was a little bit more (severe). I was dizzy for a while, but I just had a lot of trust in Tim Lentych. He’s a very good man, he got me back playing many times through injuries over there through my time in Trenton, so we devised a plan and it ended up working out and I came back when we thought I would.

JN: Do you think the time you spent in Arizona last year, adding a big chunk to your overall workload might have helped you manage this year better?

AR: I do. I think so. Playing more games than just 140, getting up into the 160s, that’s what the big leagues is. It’s a lot more games than in Trenton in Scranton, but I think that being in Arizona may have helped me out.

JN: Last one, given the hype that you two have come here with, did you think that you and Jesus would ever be in the same major league clubhouse at the same time?

AR: We always joked about when we were coming up through the system together, like ‘Yeah, we’re both going to be there. How cool would that be?’ Like I said, this happened really quick, so we just recently started talking about it, how cool it is to be in the same clubhouse. Even though we’re vying for the same job, we’re both here and we’re both just trying to help the team out the best we can.


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