"I just take it as they let me out of jail, that's all," he said.
Romero, set to return on Wednesday from a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's policy against performance-enhancing substances, was happy to be back with his teammates as they embark on a 10-game trip to San Diego, Los Angeles and New York.
The 32-year-old left-hander has been working in the Minor Leagues to get innings under his belt, throwing 7 2/3 frames for Class A Lakewood, Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He allowed two earned runs (2.35 ERA) on five hits, struck out seven and walked two.
"I'm where I need to be right now," Romero said. "I feel good. [Saturday and Sunday were] the first back-to-back games that I had, and it came out pretty good. My arm responded pretty well."
The Phillies scooped up Romero in June 2007 after the Red Sox designated him for assignment, and he became a key late-inning arm out of their bullpen. In 132 games with Philadelphia, Romero is 5-6 with 46 holds and a 2.17 ERA. He prevented 62 of 84 (73.8 percent) inherited runners from scoring.
While the Minors are a far cry from the World Series, when he last pitched in the big leagues, the 10-year veteran used the two months in baseball purgatory to reflect and to teach, in addition to working off a mound.
"My time in the Minor Leagues was something like a humbling experience," Romero said. "It helped me go back to basics as far as what it takes to be back in the big leagues. And really, at the same time, I felt that I helped a lot of the young guys that I came across, giving them a little advice and letting them understand ... [that] you got to protect your career.
"I'm just hoping that wherever I plant my seed, it grows into something positive."
With that seed widely spread, he is itching to return -- "I'd say it's past due, you know?" -- but then again, that may be his nature.
Or as he said, laughing: "I was born ready."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less