TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – New York Mets shortstop Pete Alonso returned to his old high school on Saturday for a charity event held a block away from the home of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
It was only natural that the question arose with the big-spending Steinbrenner and Mets owner Steve Cohen going on a big shopping spree this offseason.
Asked if he realized what it would be like to play for the demanding Steinbrenner, Alonso said he didn’t.
“There’s only one way to find out, and that’s just to keep watching it develop. I feel like we’re on the cusp of something very special, and I know we don’t just want to win one, we want to win multiple championships.”
The Mets haven’t won a World Series since 1986.
Alonso grew up and lives in Tampa and attends Plant High School in the city.
On Saturday, Alonso’s foundation held the inaugural Battle For The Bay, a youth home run derby for boys and girls playing baseball and softball in the greater Tampa area, at a school about a half-mile from Boss’s home. Proceeds will go toward renovating local baseball and softball fields.
Entering their third season under Cohen, the Mets signed free agent Justin Verlander. They also added starters Kodei Senga and Jose Quintana, retained center fielder Brandon Nimmo and closer Edwin Diaz, and signed reliever David Robertson.
“Honestly, I didn’t really have any input,” Alonso said. “I just sat and just put my feet up and just watched. I think it was great to make some additions. We have a great core of kids. We have a lot of talent and I feel like we’ve made some really positive additions. So it’s going to be really exciting.”
Verlander, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, joins former Detroit teammate Max Scherzer as the effective replacement for Jacob deGrom, who left New York to agree to a five-year, $185 million contract with Texas.
“Jake is a great guy,” Alonso said. “He’s a great teammate. It’s sad. It’s just part of the business. Obviously I’m going to miss having him, but Justin Verlander is going to be great. She is obviously very decorated. pitcher, very accomplished.”
“Losing Jake is bittersweet because yeah, I’m losing a great teammate, I’m losing a good friend, but again, we’re getting another high-caliber pitcher to play in our rotation,” the first baseman said.
Alonso also almost became teammates with Carlos Correa. However, the star shortstop agreed to a six-year, $200 million contract on Tuesday that will keep him with the Minnesota Twins after failing to complete deals with the Mets and San Francisco Giants.
Correa agreed to a 12-year, $315 million deal with the Mets, but the Giants had similar concerns about his ankle after a Dec. 22 physical and delayed finalizing the deal while trying to negotiate defenses over the next two weeks.
“People will ask, ‘What’s going on?’ Alonso said with a smile. “I do not know: Steve and I don’t talk about it.”
Alonso avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year, $14.5 million deal. He nearly doubled his $7.4 million contract through 2022, the year he tied Yankees shortstop Aaron Judge for the major league lead with 131 RBIs.
“Yesterday was really special,” Alonso said. “I didn’t think at a young age to think about it that it would be possible.”
Alonso is hitting for three weeks and connected on a pair of 400-foot homers in the pro home run derby. Others included Houston star Kyle Tucker and former sluggers Travis Hafner and Carlos Peña.
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