Vinnie Pasquantino had a wild, fun and special 2022, filled with professional and personal achievements. He made his Major League debut and established himself as a key piece of the Royals’ future as a middle-of-the-order bat. He also got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Ryann, and the two have a wedding date set for next offseason.
Now, Pasquantino is ready for the 2023 season to begin. After taking the necessary time off to reset his body and mind following the end of last season, Pasquantino felt ready for baseball again when the Jets -- his favorite NFL team -- invited him to their Dec. 18 game against the Lions. It was Pasquantino’s first time on an NFL field, and the competitive atmosphere and a stadium full of fans got him thinking about all that ’22 brought and what ’23 could bring.
“That’s when I was like, ‘Yep, this was a good year. I was playing at a stadium full of people as well, and now I’m ready to get back out there,’” Pasquantino said. “The itch is back. So yes, I was able to reflect on my season. It just feels surreal thinking of driving to an actual stadium every day for work as opposed to a small ballpark.”
By the time you’re reading this, Pasquantino will be vacationing in Florida. But MLB.com caught up with the Royals' first baseman before he left to talk about his offseason and, of course, the Jets:
MLB.com: Wait, you’ve probably told this story plenty of times, but how did you become a Jets fan?
Pasquantino: So, Vinny Testaverde was the Jets quarterback when I was young, and I had never met anyone else with the name Vinnie like me. So randomly one day, when I found that out, I was like, ‘Yep, I’m rooting for the Jets.’ And it turned into my entire life.
MLB.com: Hopefully that lifelong fandom can start to pay off a little bit now, because it looks like they have a bright future.
Pasquantino: They do, and also, we [the Royals] share a parking lot with the Chiefs, so I think I’m allowed to be an honorary member of Chiefs Kingdom. And that is not the worst team to be able to cheer for, especially now in the playoffs.
MLB.com: OK, let’s talk baseball. How’s your offseason training going?
Pasquantino: Just kind of sticking with what I know and preparing to get ready for Spring Training. I’m still working out at the same place in Nashville, and nothing has really changed much with the work, because it’s been good each offseason and gotten me ready.
MLB.com: Is there anything in particular you focus on with that work?
Pasquantino: Just trying to create some consistency. Being more consistent as I go in my work, try to dominate in the cage as much as possible. I always tell our hitting guys here, and the Royals’ hitting guys, like, ‘I hate training. Training sucks.’ Because I like to compete, and training isn’t competitive. It’s BP, it’s getting ready. So I've always got to find some way to compete, get my heart going a little bit. If I don’t do that, my adrenaline is so down. I’m always trying to find a new way to make it a competition.
Yesterday, we had this fastball game going. You had to swing at the right pitches, stop at the right pitches, just kind of sharpening your toolset for when you start playing. Technically we do have a leaderboard that they put up on the board so we can compete against each other, but mostly it’s just against yourself.
MLB.com: Have you talked to new Royals manager Matt Quatraro? What are your impressions?
Pasquantino: I’ve probably talked to him about four or five times, just about the job. I talked to him about once or twice before he got the job, too, because I knew he was being interviewed. Brian Sweeney, our pitching coach, was actually Team Italy’s pitching coach, so he and I met before he interviewed for the job.
Both of them are definitely more on the progressive side when it comes to baseball. Both are very smart, forward-thinking guys, and hopefully they’ll put us in a good position to be successful this year.
MLB.com: How much do you and your teammates talk about the changes the Royals are making this offseason, and how much do you think it will affect you guys come spring?
Pasquantino: We’ve talked about it some, and we’re all obviously paying attention to the changes. But I think for the most part, we’re focused on what we need to do individually right now. And as Spring Training starts, we’ll start to worry more about, ‘All right, how are we looking as a team? Is everybody ready to roll?’ I think it’ll be interesting and different, just how things work on a daily basis. We basically have a brand-new staff, except for the hitting department coming back, which is nice.
MLB.com: You mentioned you might be going to the Chiefs’ first playoff game in Kansas City. Are you going to find a way to bang the drum, since Bobby Witt Jr. did that at a game earlier this offseason?
Pasquantino: We are going to try to go, a group of us. But banging the drum, that’s a superstar thing to do. I’ll let Bobby do it again.