Yanks' Romine knows his time will come
Catching prospect discusses mindset at Futures Game
ANAHEIM -- Catcher Austin Romine's path to the Bronx might have been cleared considerably on Friday had the Yankees traded Jesus Montero to the Mariners in a rumored deal for star left-hander Cliff Lee.
Lee instead went to the Rangers, maintaining the status quo in the New York system at that key defensive slot behind the aging Jorge Posada. Montero is at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Romine is at Double-A Trenton. Posada will be 39 on Aug. 17."That definitely runs through my mind," said Romaine, whose U.S. team defeated the World team, 9-1, in the XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Angel Stadium. "But I try to keep it in perspective. If I don't continue to do well here, then there's going to be no future there. I've got to continue to do what I'm doing. That'll take care of itself and I try to not to worry about it." Posada, a five-time All-Star, is in his 16th Major League season, although his days as a catcher are dwindling, making way for more duty as a designated hitter. Montero, 20, is rated by Baseball America as the top catching prospect in baseball, and though he might be a tad behind in defense, his combined offensive numbers at Class A and Double-A in 2009 were a .337 average, 17 home runs and 70 RBIs. Romine, at 21, is considered to have a strong throwing arm and is hitting .281 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 72 games for Trenton this year. On Sunday, he was 1-for-2 with an RBI double. "I'm just trying to live in the present," Romine said. "No use in thinking about it. I've been fortunate to have some success early. I just take it year to year. I started in low A, went to high A, and now I'm in Double-A. As long as I keep moving up, it's OK with me." Romine has a Major League pedigree and grew up in the shadow of Angel Stadium in nearby Lake Forest, Calif., where he still makes his home in the offseason. His dad is Kevin Romine, an outfielder who played at Arizona State and in parts of seven big league seasons with the Red Sox from 1985-91 and had a lifetime .251 batting average. Austin was not yet 3 years old when his father played his last game in '91 and doesn't remember hanging around the game, but he said growing up in a big league family had an impact. "It did," the younger Romine said. "I always had my father around to bounce things off him. There are some days when you just don't want to get up and play and he was there to teach me how to handle it." Of course, Romine also grew up as an Angels fan. He was 13 years old in 2002 when the Halos outlasted the Giants in seven games to win their first and only World Series championship. So getting out on that field of his childhood dreams on Sunday was a thrilling experience. He played the last four innings defensively and flew out to right to lead off the seventh. With two outs in the eighth, his line double into the left-center-field gap, where Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad once roamed, accounted for his club's final run. "My teams were Tim Salmon and all those guys," he said. "When I was a kid, all I knew about Major League Baseball was coming here and watching these games. So this is exciting. I grew up in this stadium and I'm back home playing in front of my friends and family." Now, he seems to be on a Major League tract. Romine was a second-round pick of the Yankees in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Aside from the Futures Game honor, he was also one of four Trenton Thunder players named this week to the Eastern League All-Star Game to be played in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, a day after the Major League Midsummer Classic. This is all pretty heady stuff, although Montero is still ahead of him on the Yankees' Minor League depth chart. "That's just the way it is," Romine said. "I don't get into talking about who's better than whom. I'll let people make their own assessments. I can't dwell on it. That's easy. I just think about what I have to do to get a hit that day."