Nuiman Romero and Chris Leroux are baseball journeymen. While the word may have a negative connotation today, its origins go back to medieval times, when it meant a professional who’d do a day’s work (from the French word for day, journée). Some journeymen traveled far and wide to learn their craft; some still do.
Romero was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2002. In 10 years of North American minor-league baseball, he’s played for 13 different teams, including All-Star turns with Kinston (Carolina League), Bowie and Erie (Eastern League). In that time, he’s played a total of 12 major-league games, for the Red Sox and Indians. He’ll turn 30 years old in two weeks. He gets a shot at the bigs with the A’s Triple-A affiliate (AAAA?), the Nashville Sounds, this coming season.
This season, Romero led the surprising Caribes of Anzoategui to a first-place finish in the regular season, and he’s batting .533 as they take an early advantage in the semifinals. This is no accident–Nuiman his .347 in the first 64 games prior of the opening season. Las Vegas, Akron, Columbus, Pawtucket: Nuiman’s resume reads like the itinerary for an early Aerosmith tour. Go on, son.
Then there’s Chris Leroux, another 30-year-old who’s hung around the fringes of MLB for the past six years, making 65 appearances for the Pirates, Marlins and Yankees. Chris pitched six shutout innings for the Magallanes the other night as they keep pace with the Caribes in this second season of Venezuelan pelota. Being from Montreal, LeRoux might even know what journée means.
Indianapolis, Jupiter, Jacksonville….Leroux’s been around the block, 11 minor-league teams since 2005. In 2013, he may have fallen off your radar, fans, because he went and pitched five games for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. And now, Valencia.
While anyone can admire the Miguel Cabreras of the world, the mighty batsmen capable of 450-foot home runs, I have a soft spot for the Nuiman Romeros and Chris Lerouxs of the baseball universe–and any universe. The day-laborers, working for their keep and their dream of Major League playing time.