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Blue Jays' Jordan Romano.Photo illustration The Globe and Mail. Source photo Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press

Jordan Romano has begun the Toronto Blue Jays season on the injured list because of inflammation in his elbow. So fans will have a short wait to see the intense 6-foot-5 Canadian closer known for dramatic ninth-inning entrances, high heat and superb curls billowing out from under his ballcap.

On a breezy afternoon during spring training at the team’s complex in Dunedin, Fla., the 30-year-old all-star reliever from Markham, Ont., sat down to chat. The conversation veered from trucks to baseball cards, to the occupation he always expected he’d pursue, and what it’s like when his hype music starts blaring.

When are you happiest?

I’m typically a happy guy, but two places come to mind. First is when my wife and I take our dog for a hike in the woods. That is pure bliss being in nature with my new family. We recently got married, and my dog is like my son! We have a Doberman, his name is Otto, and he loves to walk. Second, I think, would be on the golf course with my brother. We are super close. He’s been my mentor growing up, so we talk, he gives me advice and we play some golf, and there’s a competitive spirit to it, too.

What is your most valued possession?

Hmm. I wish I could say it was some family heirloom or something. But I did just buy a new truck – a Ram TRX and it’s my prized possession right now. I wash it, I take care of it. I got it in Blue Jay blue, and I love this truck.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Right now, it’s baseball cards. I thought it would just be a fun little hobby, but it’s got to the point where it’s an extravagance. I didn’t realize how expensive some of them were, but now I’m learning. I’m collecting a lot of the Blue Jays guys, like Bo, Vladdy, and they get pretty pricey.

What’s your favourite card?

I just got a Vlad Jr., Vlad Sr. both signed. And it’s a picture of them winning the home-run derby. So the first father-son to ever win the home-run derby. Yeah, and it’s numbered out of 10. So it’s kind of rare. It’s my favourite card right now.

Do you have a Jordan Romano card?

I do, yeah. It’s not as expensive as those ones. It’s less desirable. I can collect mine for cheap.

What is your greatest fear?

Probably going through my career without making a true impact on the city or the youth coming up. Honestly, I’ve always dreamed of that place, like making deep playoff runs the city can get behind, a World Series. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff, but if I don’t get to that place, if the team doesn’t get to that place, I think for my whole life I’ll be missing something.

If not pro baseball, what career would you have pursued?

I know 100 per cent what I’d be doing. My dad has an HVAC company, heating and air. I was dialled in. They do a lot of railroad tracks, like right outside of the Rogers Centre, they do the heaters out there. So my brother works there, and my dad. I was ready to work there, too. I’d go with them and help them when I was younger, like carrying tools and stuff. I never thought I was going to play pro baseball, so I was ready to get in there. You got your crew, you fix the heaters on the tracks. I think I would have loved that.

What is your earliest memory of throwing a baseball?

In my backyard with my dad and my brother as well. We were big into sports and had an ice rink in our yard, too. As soon as I was walking, I was throwing and skating.

Is there another talent you would like to have?

Oh, yeah, I’d like to be able to play an instrument like the piano. And sing. I’d like to entertain people.

What’s the trait that you most dislike in others?

When people lack empathy, and they’re very judgmental, like you judge someone’s actions without thinking about maybe their childhood or their situation at home might be behind why they’re doing something.

Is there a trait you dislike in yourself, something you wish you could change?

Oh yeah. I don’t like confrontation. If I could say no more, or just not be so agreeable all the time. I think life would be a little bit easier, but it’s very hard for me to do that.

What’s your greatest regret?

I wish I could go back and be a better student in high school, and nicer to the teachers. I wasn’t some idiot kid, but I do wish I had been nicer and more thoughtful, because I know how hard teachers work.

Are there any authors or musicians who have resonated with you?

Yeah, I’d say David Goggins, he’s a Navy SEAL. I was struggling, in my first year in the big leagues, really hard with the mental side, and dealing with negative publicity, not playing well. So I read Goggins’s book Can’t Hurt Me and it kind of turned me around, realizing how hard you can work. As for artists, I like a lot of EDM and pump-up music, so like, deadmau5, Skrillex, artists like that.

What do you value most in a catcher?

That they’re ready to work for you every day. When I’m on the mound, I know I’m prepared, so I just want the guys behind the dish to be prepared, too. And we have two that are always prepared. Both go out of their way to establish relationships. This another quality I like – relationships, knowing who your pitchers are, a friendship off the field, going to dinner, getting to know each other. I am good friends with Kirky [catcher Alejandro Kirk] and Jano [catcher Danny Jansen]. If I’m not in the right mindset, they know how to get me back there.

Who is a person you admire?

My parents, for sure. They taught me what a good marriage looks like, how to respect each other. My dad worked hard, had four kids, put us in all the sports and gave us everything we needed. He’d work day and night, still does and he’s 60. You don’t realize it until you grow up and find out life’s got real stuff, real bills. My dad’s been in business probably 40 years, a respectable guy, never short-cutted anyone. Anyone that works with my dad knows it’s got to be perfect, or we’re doing it again. That’s helped me in my life, no matter what I’m doing.

What was the most rewarding day for you in the game?

It wasn’t just one day, but it’s those times after I pitch and my family is waiting for me after the game. Just for me to be able to bring a little bit of joy – and sometimes it isn’t joy – but a lot of the time it’s joy, or excitement. I know they love it. That’s extremely rewarding.

What’s the most challenging thing about being a closer?

It’s very stressful. That’s one thing I didn’t realize about the big leagues when I dreamed about it as a kid. And it’s great. It’s amazing. I love it. But it is stressful, very mentally taxing. There are emotions that I never thought I could have. When you blow a big game you feel like everyone’s against you, everyone’s talking bad about you. The daily stress is tough, but I’ve developed ways to combat it. In a way, you learn to love the emotions. You’re not going to get those emotions anywhere else. It’s the most challenging part, but also the thing I’m going to miss most after I’m done playing.

How does it feel when you get called out of the bullpen to close a game, the door opens and you get your own light show and hype music to run out?

You know what? I’m so anxious before that moment, that when it opens, it’s almost like I’m at peace. It is the weirdest thing. I’m so nervous before, even when I wake up. The thoughts start going but when the doors open, it is peace, I’m confident in my work, I’m ready to go. And I’m cool with whatever happens. I’m in this moment and I know I’m prepared. I’m going to bring it, and it’s just like 20 minutes of peace in my life.

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