Romo smiling through final chapter of MLB career with Giants

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There was a familiar sight in the Giants’ dugout Sunday afternoon during their Cactus League tilt against the Los Angeles Angels in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Standing in the dugout in the bottom of the second inning with a huge smile across his face was San Francisco right-handed pitcher Sergio Romo. He was catching ice chunks in his mouth thrown by fellow reliever Sean Hjelle.

Romo, the fan favorite who gained popularity while winning three World Series titles over nine seasons in the Bay Area, clearly is enjoying every last second of his major league career’s final chapter.

“To see my name on a locker as a Giant, it means a lot,” Romo said Sunday to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Duane Kuiper and Shawn Estes. “It really does.”

Romo officially signed a minor league contract with the Giants on Saturday, representing his return to San Francisco after six years away.

The plan is for Romo to build up his arm during the final stretch of camp and take the mound one last time during the Giants’ spring training finale March 27 against the Oakland Athletics at Oracle Park. He’ll get one last chance to trot out to the tune of “El Mechón,” an anthem that haunted opposing hitters across 15 MLB seasons.

“I feel really good. Feeling extremely blessed right now,” Romo said. “There are certain things that keep coming my way. For those that feel that I actually deserve something like this -- this opportunity to close the door where I began – it’s extremely humbling, so I’m thankful for it.”

Romo made the improbable leap from a 28th-round pick by the Giants in 2005 to a contributing member of a big league bullpen in less than three years. He stuck with the Giants for nine seasons and was on the mound for the final out of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

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“We were a part of some really cool things,” Romo said. “It’s been quite the ride. Thankful for the opportunity to don the Orange and Black again, that’s for dang sure.”

The 40-year-old last appeared in a major league game July 14 in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. Romo is keeping expectations low for his exhibition appearance, as he didn’t do much throwing other than playing catch with his sons this offseason.

But one pitch forever remains in the arsenal.

“We’ve been whipping out the can of WD-40,” Romo jokingly said.” … I’ve experimented the last couple days flipping a couple [sliders] in there. Proud to say that it’s still a hard left. It’s still in there, it just may not come in as hot as it used to.”

El Mechón will retire after making his final exhibition appearance wearing the Orange and Black, just as it was meant to be.

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