Pete Alonso has been chomping at the bit to play some baseball.
Luckily for him, the time seems to be upon us as long as the league can safely return to action later this month.
“I’m geeked up to play. I’m not the only one who feels that way, either,” the Mets’ slugger told reporters over Zoom on Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not ideal, but I’m so happy that we’re finally back and playing baseball.”
“Not ideal” is one way to put it as Major League Baseball continues to struggle with its comprehensive, timely coronavirus testing policies that have left teams in limbo in recent days.
Those issues have not pertained to the Mets, according to Alonso.
“I feel great about the protocols here in New York. I feel like this is a city that was affected a lot by this whole thing — more than a lot of places. Here at Citi Field, the protocols have been very regimented and this whole process has been actually awesome because we’re being tested every other day, we’re getting results prompt and quick… I feel safe,” he said. “As a whole organization, we’re taking this thing very seriously because at the end of the day, if guys aren’t healthy and they’re sick, we won’t even be able to play.”
While other notable names around the league have voiced their concerns about playing this season — including some opting out of playing altogether, Alonso confirmed that there are no such cases at Citi Field.
“Everyone here, we want to play, and we’re taking all the necessary precautions,” he said.
The 24-year-old who set the MLB single-season rookie home run record with 53 last season sees it as a civic duty to get back to action even if there aren’t any fans allowed in the stadium.
“For me, I know that every single New York Met fan is going to be watching at home,” he said. “You could have hundreds of thousands of people, [and we’re] putting a smile on their face… Every time [Jacob deGrom] goes out there and strikes out the side or [Michael Conforto] or [JD Davis] or [Brandon Nimmo] makes a diving play, or [Yoenis Cespedes] hits a go-ahead home run, that’s going to make people so happy.”
“People need something to lean on to help cope. So I’m really, really excited to be able to get back and be able to put a smile on some fans’ faces and play the game we love.”
It will be difficult to come up with an encore to his monstrous rookie season given a 60-game schedule — one Alonso said he’s prepared for after playing his collegiate baseball at the University of Florida — but the right-handed slugger is poised to have more support around him in the lineup.
Yoenis Cespedes is poised to be ready for Opening Day, especially as a designated hitter, to make the middle of the Mets lineup that much more imposing.
“He has been just an absolutely incredible baseball player… Seeing what he can do to a baseball and pulverize it… he’s such a dynamic hitter,” Alonso said. “He’s a great baseball player. That’s a hell of a bat to have in the lineup. Advantage us.”
The Mets will need a big-bopping lineup to contend this season with a difficult schedule waiting for them. But for now, Alonso is just happy to be back at the ballpark.
“I just put my hands on the ground just to feel the dirt just to make sure it’s real,” he said. “Just being here and being able to play baseball, just do my job, I just have a much higher appreciation for this game and this opportunity.”
“I have this love-affair for baseball and it made my love for it grow even more. It means so much to me.”