SoCal native Romo excited to play for Dodgers

Longtime Giants closer ready for role as setup man

SoCal native Romo excited to play for Dodgers

PHOENIX -- Sergio Romo, a Southern California native who won three World Series with the rival Giants, now wears "Dodgers" across his jersey and he knows what the AT&T Park faithful are thinking.

"Coming over here to what the Bay Area considers the dark side -- it's kind of cool and kind of silly," Romo said moments before throwing his first bullpen session as a Dodgers reliever on Thursday.

"I don't see it that way. I'm thankful for the opportunity, that other organizations were calling and still believe in my ability to play this game. I've got a spot at the table. Got a locker, got a jersey with my name, got a job. My sons can say, 'Dad's still a big leaguer.'"

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Romo, who turns 34 next month, officially signed on Wednesday. As he surveys the free-agent market and sees some colleagues out of work, the former closer is willing to be a setup man for Kenley Jansen.

"Some guys are considering retiring," he said. "Makes it easier for me to be appreciative. I know I signed late, but I feel lucky, very privileged."

Romo spent nine seasons with Dave Righetti as his pitching coach in San Francisco, and said, "It's pretty awesome having Rick Honeycutt as my coach. I grew up a Dodgers fan."

Indeed, even in his first game at Dodger Stadium, Romo recalls leaving tickets for 30 family members, who all showed up in Dodgers gear.

"And here I am playing for the Giants," he said. "It didn't really fly well. Now they can bring blue and white out of the closet and wear it with pride."

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Romo talks about succeeding without being the "biggest and baddest" at 5-foot-11. He wears his pride on his sleeve, while acknowledging he plays for more than personal satisfaction or financial gain. For example, he can't wait to make another appearance with Team Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"For me it's super special, important," he said. "I believe children are the best examples of their parents. I get to represent that I'm my father's son and my mother's son. They were the best examples I could ever hope for, they showed me what it's like to show respect, so people accept the type of people we are.

"To put on a jersey that says 'Mexico,' I know I'm born in the States, but the blood in my veins is Mexican. My morals, my upbringing, my customs, it's all Mexican. I get to show my appreciation for that. I'm happy to say I can give something back and represent what my dad stands for. I only hope it makes him feel good, and proud of me. It's awesome for me, born in the States with Mexican parts, that's the best way to describe myself."

Manager Dave Roberts said Romo won't necessarily pitch the eighth inning in a traditional setup role, as the Dodgers often mix and match, depending on game situations.

But Romo said he expects to pitch in "key situations" and he's eager to show "what I'm made of and who I am."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.