The ovation for Mets first baseman Pete Alonso was second only to Jacob deGrom during the introductions before Thursday’s home opener against the Nationals at Citi Field.
Some fans applaud promise before performance, and Alonso had built enough minor-league equity to warrant a big reaction in his first home game. And he and manager Mickey Callaway refused to let an 0-for-4 day with two strikeouts ruin the event.
“Just not as productive as the other [games],’’ Callaway said. “He’s been so good, you’re going to have a bad game every now and again, but the one good thing about Pete is that he’s up there battling hard. I still think he took some really good swings . . . That’s just how it went for a lot of us today.’’
Alonso seemed a bit stunned that fans actually rose from their seats twice, the second time when he had his first at-bat. “To hear that, that just meant the world,’’ he said after the Mets’ 4-0 loss. “To be well received like that, especially my first [at-bat], that was really, really cool.’’
First base has been a problem area for the Mets since . . . well, that becomes a debatable point. Some will argue Keith Hernandez was the last significant player in that position. That was more than 30 years ago. Others might say Carlos Delgado. That’s more than a decade ago. Original Met Ed Kranepool was in the house. More recently, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda had promise but didn’t pan out.
Alonso hit 36 homers and had 119 RBIs in the minors last season, so he’s next up. And he had a nice first week, hitting .409 with a homer and seven RBIs, but had his comeuppance against Stephen Strasburg, who retired him three times, including a strikeout, and Justin Miller, who struck him out in the eighth.
Alonso tipped his cap to Strasburg. “He executed really well,’’ he said. “He didn’t leave very many pitches over the plate. He was hitting the corners really well, I thought he located well. He hit his spots consistently. I was excited, but I felt natural out there. Strasburg, I mean he’s really good today. Really sharp, [but] I feel if I stay the course and have a good game on Saturday, I’ll have a bounce-back day.’’