Pete Alonso wants in for 2026 World Baseball Classic
NORTH PORT, Fla. — On his first day back with the Mets after a half-month away, Pete Alonso was effusive and ebullient: Participating in the World Baseball Classic was awesome, he “100%” wants in again next time, and the experience will help him in his next shot at the playoffs, he said.
For Alonso, a veteran of three postseason games through four seasons in the majors, living through a series of intense, big-stakes games in front of packed, enthusiastic crowds doubled as a training ground for Octobers to come.
His burning desire to win with the Mets “absolutely” is even hotter after capturing a silver medal with the United States, he said.
“Playing in those playoff-type, high-leverage games, it’s an addicting feeling,” Alonso said Thursday. “To play playoff-type baseball early this year is going to be an extremely important experience and learning thing for me. I’m really happy I did it, because I got a taste of playoff baseball — it was pretty short-lived, only three games — last year. The result wasn’t there, but I wanted more.
“To be able to jump right in during spring and be able to experience that and be able to participate, I think it’s really special. Performing and having those at-bats and experience, it’s going to be extremely valuable for October.”
Jeff McNeil, who also suited up for the United States, expressed a similar sentiment to manager Buck Showalter.
“He referenced it with the idea that, hopefully, we can have that this year,” Showalter said. “If we can earn it.”
Alonso was back in his regular spots, batting fourth and playing first base, in the Mets’ 2-2 exhibition tie with Atlanta. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Showalter described him as “a little frustrated.”
After hurrying up early in camp to get ready for the WBC, Alonso now is at least “a little bit” playing catch-up, Showalter said, to get ready for the start of the season next week. The Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt manned first base and the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber absorbed much of the DH playing time during the tournament. Alonso got into five of seven games and went 2-for-14 with four strikeouts.
McNeil was 1-for-9 (with four walks) in five games. He returned to Port St. Lucie to amass nine plate appearances in multiple minor-league games, in which rules are flexible and McNeil can bat in every Mets half-inning across multiple fields/games.
Also, reliever Adam Ottavino tossed an inning in one of those contests.
“Jeff is back there going from field to field to field for two days straight,” Showalter said. “That’s must-watch. I’d love to get [back] there and watch.”
Does that approach, commonly employed by injured players rushing to get ready, work in readying a hitter’s swing and timing?
“That’s an interesting question that I have personal thoughts on,” Showalter said. “If they think that [works], we’re going to support that and make it available. Some people it might work well for. Some it wouldn’t.”
Regarding the season’s imminent arrival, Alonso said “I feel great” because the WBC got him ready mentally, not just physically.
The major downside of the WBC for the Mets was the loss of Edwin Diaz, who suffered a right knee injury while playing for Puerto Rico. He is expected to miss the entire season.
“We’re going to miss him for sure, but we got some bad dudes ready to step up,” Alonso said. “I’m excited to see how we face adversity. Adversity comes in many forms. Hopefully Eddie has a speedy and healthy recovery. One can be hopeful that he comes back and pitches in the playoffs, but his body is going to pretty much dictate everything. I just want him to get back as quickly and healthy as possible. Because we are going to miss him.”
The next WBC is in 2026. Alonso said he “absolutely” is interested in playing again because his first go-around was “really, extremely special.”
“It’s just a truly, truly incredible experience,” he said. “I’m really thankful for it. I’m really proud of it.”