The San Francisco Giants heavily monitor Sergio Romo every spring training, and that was the case long before he became their closer.
His tiny body type and tendency to feel elbow soreness every March are reasons management and the coaching staff keep close tabs, but the Giants had little control of Romo once he went off to play for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
In Mexico's first game, he threw 26 pitches and blew a save chance in a loss to Italy. Romo threw that many pitches just once in 2012, and certainly not in spring training.
Furthermore, Mexico used Romo on back-to-back days, something the Giants would never have done at this stage. The second day, he threw 13 pitches. Not a lot, but 13 more than the Giants would have had him throw.
"He's doing fine -- he says his arm feels fine," said San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who spoke with Romo and hopes he was being told the truth. "His pride has been hurt a little bit (from the loss to Italy). He's a competitor and is pitching for his country, so that bothered him."
Bochy couldn't have been thrilled hearing quotes from Mexico manager Rick Renteria, who said Bochy was OK with Romo pitching consecutive days.
"As I think Bochy says all the time: All hands on deck," Renteria said.
Bochy might've said that in October, not March.
Renteria added of Romo, "He's not really a guy I worry about from a physical standpoint."
At least the Giants don't have to worry about further Romo appearances for his national team, as Mexico was eliminated in the opening round of the WBC.
Romo doesn't have much of a track record as a closer. He has just 17 career regular-season saves, 14 last year after emerging as No. 1 from a committee of closers that included Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla.
Romo was splendid in the postseason, and now the question is whether he can succeed over a full season. He certainly got off to a busy start.