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Romo to share closer duties after struggles

Romo to share closer duties after struggles

SAN FRANCISCO -- The next time the Giants carry a lead into the ninth inning, the big question will be who will try to preserve that advantage.

That's because Sergio Romo is no longer the team's full-time closer, manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday morning. After Romo's latest blown save Saturday night, Bochy has opted for a closer-by-committee approach, based on matchups, with Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Romo.

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"I think it's time we tweak it a little bit," Bochy said. "He [Romo] has done a great job. It's fair to say he's having his struggles. We think we can help him late in the ballgame. He'll still be part of the mix, so we're going to back him off a little bit and do it by committee."

Bochy told Romo the plan in a meeting Sunday morning. Bochy said Romo was fine with the decision.

"It is what it is," Romo said after Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Reds. "I'm going to get a chance, and when I get a chance, I'm going to be ready to rock."

Romo was not used in the loss.

"It wasn't what he wanted to hear, but he's a team guy and he'll help out wherever we need him," Bochy said. "I think it's time to lighten the load on him a little bit.

"As a group, we've hit a bump in the road. As individuals, a lot of us had hiccups, so this is not a fun time for a manager to tell a closer you're going to change things a little bit, but sometimes you got to change things."

Romo has blown three consecutive saves at AT&T Park and has allowed 15 runs in his last 15 innings. Causing the problems, according to Bochy, is a combination of predictability (teams are well aware Romo's slider is his go-to pitch) and poor command, as hanging sliders have become commonplace. The Giants have seen Romo excel before; the hope is a reduced role allows him to regain All-Star form.

In his 13-year career, Affeldt has saved 28 games. He has 10 saves in six seasons with the Giants; the last came in 2012. Prior to being tagged for two runs on three hits in one-third of an inning Sunday, the left-hander had allowed just four runs on 20 hits in 27 innings this season and had allowed just one earned run in his last 15 appearances.

Casilla saved 25 games for the Giants in 2012 and has had an outstanding 2014 season, with four earned runs to his name on 18 hits in 30 2/3 innings. Casilla, who induced a double play to get the Giants out a ninth-inning jam Sunday, hasn't surrendered a hit in his last seven outings, a span of seven innings.

Bochy also stressed the need for Jean Machi to regain his form; Machi has allowed four runs over his last two outings. He'd allowed just one run in 33 prior appearances this season.

As for Romo's new role, Bochy anticipates a smooth transition.

"He's done that before, he's done a great job at it and I think he'll do a great job wherever we use him," Bochy said. "He's fine with it right now. How long this committee thing goes, I can't tell you, but hopefully it gets him going."

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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