Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez steps down from the mound to talk tattoos, golf, and his baseball heroes.
Power pitcher Vince Velasquez, 24, made a stunning debut with the Phils last April in his second start, with a 16-strikeout, zero-walk shutout against the San Diego Padres. We caught up with the Californian, known as a fireballer with pitches north of 100 mph, fresh off spring training in Clearwater, Florida.
Who are your baseball heroes? “My dad is a big [memorabilia] collector and when I was younger, he took me to a lot of convention center signings. I met tons of players: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson. But my all-time favorite guy growing up was Ken Griffey Jr.”
You’ve been described as a pitcher who wears his emotions on his sleeve. “Things happen for a reason and you sometimes have to let it out. But it’s a matter of controlling my inner self. My dad says to focus on my breathing. It’s amazing how much breathing takes over the mind and body.”
You’ve had your share of injuries. What’s the plan to stay strong? “I work out with a band to strengthen the little muscles in the arm. The arm is the moneymaker, so I have to do whatever it takes to protect it.”
We hear you like to golf in your free time. “That’s my getaway. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll play a round of golf and turn it around.”
Tell us about your tattoos. “The right arm represents my Catholic beliefs. The left arm is more my warrior side.”
Words to live by? “If you’re ready, you don’t have to get ready.”