By: Hannah Carver
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Mattingly Romanin is incredibly familiar with springtime spent at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.
The Toronto Blue Jays prospect is the son of Mal Romanin, Manager of Baseball Information for the team, and that makes the young player’s position somewhat unique.
“Hometown team, a team my dad worked for, a team I grew up watching and being around,” the Burlington, Ont. native said after practice last week. “It’s really special to be a part of the organization myself.”
Romanin believes getting the opportunity to see the players in action as a young kid truly shaped his character and was a huge inspiration to getting where he is today.
“Being able to see those guys and watch their work ethic and how they went about their business is something that has always stuck with me,” he said. “I’ve always appreciated that and that’s something my dad handed down to me.
“Always work hard, never let a stone go unturned.”
Despite being raised on the ball diamond, the Chicago State University grad attributes his skill to being well-rounded among many different sports. He continually added to his repertoire and like any good Canadian boy, had a strong passion for hockey.
“I actually had one kid that had asked me this winter back home how many times I was practicing when I was his age playing baseball,” Romanin said. “And I was like, ‘Well, honestly, I was probably playing hockey.’ I told him to play as many sports as you can because that just increases athleticism.
“It lets you excel once you get to this age.”
While at Chicago State, Romanin definitely excelled, breaking most every record they had there — all-time leader in hits, doubles, runs batted in, and total bases.
He’s working on finding a groove in the pros after his rookie season at Bluefield where he hit .161 in 117 plate appearances, with 17 walks and a .316 on base percentage.
Although he had been at the Blue Jays training facilities many times, the 23-year-old admitted his rookie experience being surreal.
“I feel like I was a little wide-eyed last year, just being a part of it in Bluefield,” the third baseman said. “I had to keep my mindset that I belong here and I’m here to stay.”
Romanin is starting to get in the swing of things for the upcoming season and really bonding with the other players, especially after they found out how he picked up a concussion in 2013.
A rogue skydiver landed on him during a pre-game ceremony that went awry.
“Every time I’m with a new team, it’s like, alright how long is this going to take,” Romanin said. “It usually lasts for a couple days and eventually, it’s not news anymore.
“Our strength coach, Pat (Rosanio), said today “we made sure the workout today didn’t include any skydiving””.
Of course there are high hopes for his baseball career, but with skydiving?
“I’ve contemplated it, I’d just make sure there was no one on the ground first.”