Stefen Romero returned to the United States in 2022 after five years playing in Japan and made his way back to the majors, though he did not play for the Dodgers in any of the three games for which he was active.
Signed to a minor league contract in February, Romero roamed the corner outfield as a non-roster invitee during spring training before starting the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. After playing parts of three seasons (2014-16) with the Mariners, Romero hit 96 home runs in five seasons in Japan, the bulk of which came with Orix before returning stateside at age 34.
An injury during spring training sidelined Romero until late April. He hit .270/.337/.461 with eight doubles and three home runs in 24 games for Oklahoma City before getting the call to the Dodgers on June 22.
Hanser Alberto going on paternity leave for the birth of his third daughter was the roster mechanism to bring Romero back to the majors, and it came at the most vulnerable time of the season for the Dodgers outfield. Mookie Betts was on the injured list with a broken rib, and new acquisition Trayce Thompson joined the team only the day before. In Romero’s first game active, Eddy Alvarez, a career infielder, made his fourth start in right field in the previous five games.
Romero wore uniform number 29 in first time back in the majors since 2016, but did not play in the final two games against the Reds in Cincinnati, nor did he play in the series opener in Atlanta on Friday, June 24.
On Saturday, Alberto was back from paternity leave, and Romero was the roster casualty, designated for assignment. Three days later, after clearing waivers, Romero was sent outright back to Oklahoma City, where he stayed the rest of the season.
Any chance at a return trip to Los Angeles was squashed rather early back in Triple-A, as Romero suffered a foot injury on July 8 that knocked him out for 11 weeks. He returned from the injured list to play the final two games of the season for Oklahoma City, though he only batted once in each game despite starting at designated hitter.
In all, Romero only played six games in Triple-A after getting called up to the majors.
Stats: DNP, 3 G w/Dodgers; .265/.353/.431, 97 wRC+, 3 HR, 8 doubles, 30 G w/OKC
Game of the year
The Dodgers won all three games Romero was active in the majors, but he didn’t play, so we’ll choose one of his games with Oklahoma City.
On May 1 against Sugar Land, an Astros affiliate, Romero hit a double to clear the loaded bases in the first inning, then delivered a sacrifice fly in the third innings. Up with the bases loaded again in the fourth inning, Roberto hit another double, this time scoring two in a game Oklahoma City eventually won 15-10.
3 RBI last night.— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) May 1, 2022
3 RBI already today.
Stefen Romero shoots a bases-clearing double the other way to give the Dodgers the lead! pic.twitter.com/6lazqVqPs9
3⃣ plate appearances— Oklahoma City Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) May 1, 2022
Stefen Romero is on fire! His second double of the day makes it 10-2 in the 4th inning! pic.twitter.com/Krs8vsBJyF
This was just Romero’s fourth game with Oklahoma City, and he followed up a three-RBI game the night before by driving in six in this one.
Romero’s six RBI tied his stateside professional career high, previously set with Class-A High Desert ten years earlier against Rancho Cucamonga, the Dodgers affiliate. In that 2012 game, High Desert was down three runs with two outs in the ninth when Romero hit a walk-off grand slam against reliever Craig Stem.
Romero is a free agent.