“I think it’s one of those big years,” Phils hurler Vinny Velasquez acknowledged yesterday before pitchers and catchers first workout in Clearwater.

By Sam Bush

If anything, the 25-year-old Vinny the Great is understating the importance of 2018 to his career in Philly

He went 8-3 with a 3.33 ERA in his first 19 career starts with the Phillies in 2016, striking out 16 in a shutout in his second start and fanning 114 batters in 102 2/3 innings overall.

But he has been a mystery ever since, beset by injury and high pitch counts.

“Mentality,” he said. “Just a different mentality.”

Velasquez credited Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

“Like we were buddies,” Velasquez told MLB. “It’s amazing how one person or just one human being can change your ways by creating a different vibe. It’s amazing how much he brings to the clubhouse and just how live it is right now. This is the first day and we’re already bumping music. We have a whole different approach going into Spring Training and that’s something that enlightens us and gives us something to look forward to. It’s going to be exciting.”

“Vince needs to know how good he really is,” Kapler said. “My intention with Vince is … when he delivers a pitch that no one else can deliver, that we highlight it, we illuminate it, we show him how good it is. He’s incredibly focused. He’s walking around the weight room and the bullpen with swag and feels good about himself.”

“I know what I’m capable of,” Vinny said. “I know what I’m capable of doing and how well I worked all offseason to work to get to this stage. I’ve got a lot of intent. I feel like I can really fulfill this spot and do what I like to do, and that’s to be a starter. My mindset now is to be in the starting rotation and to help the squad get to that Wild Card or that playoff spot. Like I said, I think it’s one of those big years. I have nothing but confidence.”