First, it was personal frustration bubbling over in the form of a few nasty words said under the breath. Then, it was the slam of a helmet after a strikeout, a sign of anger that things just weren't going the right way.
Andrew Romine had a rough Tuesday night at the plate. Rougher than the night Detroit Tigers' new closer (whipping boy?) Joe Nathan had on the mound, and even rougher perhaps than the offense as a whole, which slopped through another inconsistent showing against moderate pitching only managing clutch hits after the game was theoretically all but over.
In the ninth inning, Romine's night got worse in the field. A blunder with Ian Kinsler on a seeing eye single up the middle by Jose Bautista—both Romine and Kinsler later shared blame and said the play shouldn't have happened—helped jump-start the Toronto Blue Jays' stunning late rally.
It was the kind of night that's a reality in baseball, but one that players are no less fearful of. Romine, known more for his glove than his bat, was betrayed by both tools of the trade in epic fashion. It was just "one of those days" for another Detroit player, something the Tigers seem to be having plenty of lately that's led to several confounding losses and a shrinking divisional lead.
Unfortunately for Romine, the night of misery may have had another effect. Where Nathan has the star power to rebound, become effective again and change the opinions of those booing him, a grinder like Romine's struggles have likely polarized the legions of Tigers' fans against him for good. He's in a rough spot filling in for Jose Iglesias without much help or experience, but that won't stop many from coming with their slings and arrows for good at every future mistake, groundout or swing and miss.
One bad night shouldn't define a player, but in this instance, it might. Romine will have to impress in a big way the rest of June and July to stick. He'll likely have to be replaced via a trade or other roster move for the Tigers to have a chance at keeping the offensive consistency needed for a serious playoff run. The team can probably survive having rookie Nick Castellanos find his way, but not the gaping hole at shortstop.
Through no fault of his own, Romine is simply a placeholder. If Iglesias's bat was a spring concern, Romine would have had to provide the same type of production Iglesias may have, or a bit better. Though Romine is considered a good fielder (a .958 fielding percentage is nothing to scoff at), he'd still have to make a few of the tough plays that Iglesias makes look routine. That just wasn't–and isn't–going to happen on either account.
Thanks to Tuesday's trouble and Wednesday's knowledge that Iglasias has indeed been shelved for the 2014 year, the spotlight will shine just a bit brighter on Romine now, and many will consider him toast.
He'll continue to fight through, though, looking for any ray of sunshine in a tough stretch of "those days" for both him and the Tigers.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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