SF Giants sign Sergio Romo, give Core Four member ‘a chance to close the book’

PEORIA, Ariz. — Before Edwin Diaz and Timmy Trumpet took over the baseball world in 2022, it was another set of horns that were instantly recognizable for Giants fans. When Banda MS’ “El Mechón” played over the loudspeakers at Third and King, it meant Sergio Romo had left his post in bullpen, back then still in left-field foul territory, and was on his way to close out another game.

Nobody has pitched in more games at Pac Bell, or AT&T, or Oracle Park than Romo’s 515 appearances. And, now, the last active member of San Francisco’s “Core Four” will get one more appearance on the shores of McCovey Cove.

The Giants signed Romo, 40, to a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp, manager Gabe Kapler confirmed after The Athletic first reported the news. The intent isn’t to beef up their bullpen but to send off Romo into retirement with the organization that drafted him, where he established himself as a big leaguer and, most importantly, where he won three World Series championships.

“El Mechón” will sound one more time, during the Giants’ exhibition with the A’s at Oracle Park on Monday, March 27.

“It feels like the right thing to do,” Kapler said. “Anytime you have a player coming in feeling like he’s being given a good opportunity to kind of close the book on what has been a phenomenal career, it just kind of feels right, to be honest.”

Romo will join the Giants in Scottsdale on Friday, according to The Athletic, and could get into a spring game or two before the Bay Bridge exhibitions.

Romo, who grew up in the tiny Central Valley community of Brawley, took an unlikely path to the majors that ventured through Arizona Western College, the University of North Alabama and Colorado Mesa University before the Giants drafted in the 28th round. Few players selected that late make the majors, and an even smaller number reach the heights Romo did.

From 2008-16, Romo recorded more saves (84) than all but six other pitchers since the team moved to San Francisco while posting a 2.58 ERA. Pairing a low 90s fastball with his signature sweeping slider, Romo struck out 498 batters as a Giant. Perhaps his most memorable punchout, however, won’t show up anywhere besides postseason stats. After feeding Miguel Cabrera three straight sliders, he froze the future Hall of Famer on an 88-mph fastball to clinch the 2012 World Series, with Buster Posey leaping into his arms only moments later.

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Kapler, who overlapped with Romo as a player from 2008-10, joked that he might have gone down swinging against one of Romo’s sliders. But the current Giants manager never did face Romo, according to Baseball Reference.

Since leaving San Francisco after 2016, Romo has taken almost as much of a winding path as he did to get to the big leagues. He bounced around between the Dodgers, Rays, Marlins, Twins, A’s, Mariners and Blue Jays before latching on in the Mexican League.

“He was a really successful pitcher not that long ago. It wouldn’t surprise me at all for him to get into a game and be OK,” Kapler said. “That’s kind of fun, too.”

But, Kapler added, “I think we all see this the same way.

“This is a cool opportunity to close a chapter on a great career and give him some spotlight that he deserves and let him retire as a Giant.”

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