Opportunity knocks and Cubs' Romine connects
Sometimes the road to rebuilding can bring positive memories.
Such was the case for the Cubs on Friday. They lost to the White Sox 8-6 in 10 innings, but enjoyed an improbable, tying 3-run homer by Andrew Romine off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning.
Romine isn't a young prospect acquired in last week's flurry of trades. He's a 35-year-old major league veteran who was willing to take a job with the Iowa Cubs to prolong his baseball career. And he's the older brother of injured backup catcher Austin Romine.
"First of all, I'm no dummy," Romine said. "I know who's on the mound when I'm coming up in that situation. So I was really just trying to find a hole somewhere, trying to get a pitch that I could do something with."
Kimbrel, who was traded from the Cubs to the White Sox last week, had given up only one other home run this season, to the Dodgers' Max Muncy on May 4. Romine hadn't hit a major league home run in four years.
"I have no idea how or why things work in baseball," he said. "Our family's been around it for a long time and there's no rhyme or reason to anything."
Romine may not be a household name, but he did spend 10 years in the majors with the Angels, Tigers, Mariners and Rangers before joining the Cubs this year.
Outfielder Greg Deichmann made his major league debut Friday, Frank Schwindel hit his first Cubs home run. But Romine has been through it all before, and when the Cubs offered him a summer job in Des Moines, he said yes.
"You can blame my wife (Kathryn) for that," Romine said. "She said, 'You go play until you can't play anymore. You play until they take it away because once you quit, nobody's going to come knocking on your door to play baseball again.'
"She's been amazing, great support. My daughter, who's almost two now, gets to see me play baseball. I never thought I would have the opportunity to see that happen."
In 2019 after leaving Seattle, Romine spent an entire season in Triple A with the Phillies' team in Lehigh Valley, Pa.
"I love playing baseball," he said. "So I really wouldn't rather do anything than play baseball. If it's minor leagues, big leagues, doesn't really matter to me. I love strapping on those cleats and going out there.
"I'm going to say honestly, I was a little surprised I got the call (from the Cubs last week). I know at this point it's a really nice opportunity to call up some young guys and see what they have. I'm very grateful to the organization for this opportunity to be up here and be able to be around these guys and participate."
Kyle Hendricks recorded another quality start, but left trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning. Romine's home run kept Hendricks' streak alive of 17 straight starts without a loss.
"I felt today I threw really well, honestly," Hendricks said. "I think I made 2 bad pitches and they were in that last inning in the sixth. Just tried to do whatever I could to keep it as close as I could.
"Then just unbelievable fight from the guys. It was so much fun to see that, these guys getting their opportunities. For Ro' to go up there and put a swing like that, it was just so much fun to see."