Mets’ Pete Alonso leaning on Robinson Cano to reach Year 2 goal
PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso’s greatest trait is his desire to learn.
He is gifted with physical tools, but there also is a thirst for knowledge. Asked if he could talk to any hitter in history, the Mets first baseman, who blasted 53 home runs his rookie season, did not hesitate.
“Ted Williams would be great,’’ Alonso told The Post. “For a guy to go fight in a war and then come back and absolutely rake is kind of mind-boggling to me. To come back from war and just be a dude, that’s ridiculous.’’
Williams won six batting titles, produced the all-time highest on-base percentage at .482, the second-highest slugging percentage at .634 (only Babe Ruth was better), and was the last man to hit .400. He also missed most of five seasons due to military service.
This spring is much different than last spring when Alonso had to convince the Mets he should start the season in the majors. Alonso crushed it in the spring, just as he did all season to win NL Rookie of the Year honors.
“I want to go about everything the right way,’’ Alonso said of finding his swing. “It can come tomorrow. It can come two weeks from now. If I hit a couple balls hard and right at someone, at least I know I have my timing. Timing can come and go, especially early in the year.’’
Here is the main goal, and it says everything about Alonso’s 2020 mindset:
“Last year, I had in mind playing a big league season, getting ready at the start of spring training and being in great shape. This offseason I still had that same mindset.’’
There is one difference.
“Look, I want to play until November. That’s the mindset,’’ Alonso said of the Mets’ World Series quest. “I want to build my body up to where I know I can handle 180-plus games. It’s all focus stuff. Quality over quantity.’’
Robinson Cano is a key resource for Alonso.
“Robby is the man,’’ Alonso said. “He is a great teacher, that’s why some of the guys call him The Professor. He’s one of the best to ever do it so having a guy like that as a neighbor in the locker room is awesome.’’
Cano said he is making sure Alonso does not put too much pressure on himself.
“The year that Alonso had is amazing,’’ Cano said. “There are always going to be ups and downs; Mike Trout is like the one guy who puts up great numbers year after year.
“Anybody who hits 30 home runs in the big leagues, that’s pretty awesome. Pete is a good kid, humble. He can’t put too much pressure on himself this year. If he hits 50, great, but if you hit 25 and help us win games, that’s what matters. For me, I don’t care about his numbers as long as he helps us win games.’’
In his first spring training game Saturday against the Marlins, Alonso hit two balls hard that went for outs, and double-checked with the analytics department afterward. He is working on finding the groove that allowed him to become the first rookie in baseball’s modern era to finish a season as the majors’ outright leader in homers.
“The first one was hit at 97 [mph] at 29 degrees, the second one was at 101 at 28 degrees,’’ Alonso said of that day’s hitting research. “Both had chances to be extra bases. That was good feedback so I know I had a good day. To have data to reassure the process that’s fine.’’
Here is his at-the-plate philosophy:
“You have to go numb up there because if you are thinking too much in the box, the ball is going to be in the catcher’s mitt before you finish your thought,’’ Alonso said.
Alonso spent the winter at home in Tampa. Asked if he ran into Yankees star Aaron Judge, he said: “No, but it would be cool to sit down and have dinner with him. I feel like me and him, we got pretty similar philosophies, but also he’s a different player. He’s got some different ideas. It would be cool to shoot the breeze with him eventually down the road.’’
That would be their own amazing Ted Talk about hitting.
Source : Kevin Kernan Link