Healthy again, Pasquantino looking forward to 2024

December 5th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- is taking ground balls in baseball pants already. That’s how excited he is to get back on the field in 2024.

The Royals’ slugging first baseman missed the majority of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in June, but he was recently cleared to start swinging and practice at 100 percent to get ready for Spring Training. And the report date in Surprise, Ariz., can’t come soon enough.

“Watching sucks,” Pasquantino said Monday. “I don’t want to do that again. I’m doing everything I can to not let that happen. The plan is to never miss a game ever again from injury. I’ve done that enough.”

Pasquantino spoke from the 2023 Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Because he lives about 40 minutes outside of Nashville, he came by to check out the chaos of baseball executives, team personnel, agents and media convening at one place for a couple of days.

Pasquantino met with Royals brass for a bit before talking with reporters and then appearing on MLB Network. He stays fairly locked into transactions and rumors around the game in the offseason, which is why he wanted to check out the scene.

“I would say, in terms of being a big league player, I probably follow it more than most,” Pasquantino said. “Just because I like baseball. That’s one of the reasons I’m here, because I think it’s fun. I watched this growing up, and now I’m a part of it. That’s crazy. 

“It’s cool to see different things happening. And this feels like the beginning of the offseason, where things start to kind of take off.”

Monday was slow for most teams, but that could change in an instant as more meetings are held and calls are made throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. Pasquantino will tune into what teams around the league do, but he has special interest in the Royals, understandably, as they look to improve following a 106-loss season.

Not only does Pasquantino never want to be injured again, but he also never wants to see his team go through a season like 2023 again.

“Everybody has a collective understanding that it can’t happen again,” Pasquantino said. “My job is on the line. The front office’s job is on the line. The coaching staff. Like, these games matter. We’re not just out there for fun. We are, but we’re also there to be professional and win games. That’s why we play. So we don’t want that to happen again. …

“It’s not something that just happens overnight. But I think if you have the right guys in the clubhouse, it’s something that can slowly change. I want to see this through, if that makes sense. I’ve been on the bad [team], I want to be on the good, too. And I want to be a reason for it. I want guys to want to come to Kansas City, whether it’s free agents or if we make trades, guys are pumped to come to Kansas City. We want to build a winning culture.”

Pasquantino is a key piece for the Royals moving forward, aiming to be a staple in the lineup and a leader in the clubhouse. For the first time in a year and a half, he’s fully healthy. Instead of undergoing physical therapy on his shoulder, he’s finally able to swing the custom golf clubs he got last spring, and a pain-free golf outing recently confirmed to him that “the surgery worked.”

Which only led to more excitement about the upcoming season.

“The beautiful thing about the offseason is you haven’t played a game, so you can be as positive as you want to be,” Pasquantino said. “We’re looking forward to a successful season. We’ll see what happens here at the Winter Meetings, see if we add anybody or whatever we need to do. I know the guys were fired up, ready to get out to spring. I’m probably more fired up than most because it’s been so long. Ready to just get out there, and we’ll see what we’ve got. This division is pretty much wide open, so why can’t we go out and take it?”