ATLANTA — Pete Alonso has proven quite adept at first base, effectively eliminating whatever doubt existed about his ability to be a major-league regular at the position.
But in recent days an odd — and minor, to be clear — issue has popped up: abandoning first base in an overzealous attempt to reach ground balls to his right.
It has happened about three times in the past week, most notably Wednesday during the Braves’ game-changing rally in the seventh. Tyler Flowers sent a slow roller about halfway between first and second, and Alonso went for it and missed. Second baseman Ruben Tejada fielded it, but had nobody to throw to at first when Seth Lugo didn’t cover the bag.
“I look at that as growing pains, as something that you, when you witness it, you don’t get upset and don’t get in his face about it,” said infield coach Gary DiSarcina, who discussed it with Alonso during lunch Thursday. “Wait 24 hours and then have a conversation with them about it the next day, when everything is settled and we’ve moved on to a new day.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said: “The hard part is, it’s in the moment. He wants to make every play. And I don’t blame him. He does a great job of making great plays sometimes. He just has to feel it, realize it in the game when the game is on the line and be able to adjust. And I think he will.”
The Mets plan to set up a drill this weekend in Kansas City, Missouri, to help Alonso fix the issue, Callaway said.
DiSarcina said those Alonso plays are the product of several factors, including a general lack of experience for the 24-year-old rookie and his lack of familiarity with the Mets’ various second baseman. Since Robinson Cano got hurt, Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme, Adeiny Hechavarria, Joe Panik and Tejada have started at second.
“He has to peek over his right shoulder and see how close the second baseman is,” DiSarcina said.
DiSarcina also sees in Alonso a desire to “want to do too much” after unsatisfying at-bats. After hitting homers in four consecutive games, Alonso was 2-for-14 with no extra-base hits heading into play Thursday, though he hit a three-run homer in the first inning against the Braves and finished 5-for-5 with six RBIs.
Alonso understands all that, DiSarcina said. It’s mostly a matter of, in the moment, being aware enough to not try too hard.
“I could see it in his body language, even before the play happened,” DiSarcina said. “Watch him. He’ll start pounding his glove. It’s growing pains, and it’s up to me, as his position coach, to talk him through it. Development never ends.”
Rojas the manager
Mets quality-control coach Luis Rojas will manage the Dominican Republic national team in November during the Premier12 tournament, a 2020 Olympics qualifier.
Considering the pool of Dominican talent — for players as well as managers — Rojas said he was deeply honored to be chosen.
“It’ll be a great experience,” said Rojas, who in 2015-16 managed Leones del Escogido to a Dominican Winter League title.
Widely said to be a major-league manager prospect, Rojas, 37, managed Mets minor-league teams for eight seasons before joining the big-league staff this year.
Two days after straining his left hamstring, McNeil did light agility drills at SunTrust Park Thursday afternoon … Wilson Ramos started a ninth consecutive game Thursday. His personal record is an astonishing 24 in a row, done with the Nationals in 2013. “I was younger then,” Ramos said with a smile. … Speaking generally about applying data to in-game decision-making, Callaway said it can be a tiebreaker if the numbers suggest an obvious choice. But overall he leans on other factors. “I bet 85 percent of our decisions go against the analytics,” Callaway said. “And that’s how it’s always going to be.”