Pete Alonso wasn’t out there at first base for the first pitch of the Phillies-Mets game Wednesday night at Citi Field. Even a 24-year-old rookie phenom needs some rest from time to time, especially when it can be paired with an off day to follow.
“He plays the game so hard,” Mickey Callaway said. “He’s so passionate. He brings so much energy every day.”
It isn’t hard to tell that Alonso has made a big impression on his manager already, even with his mitt and his leadership.
After his 36-homer, 119-RBI mega-season in the minors, Alonso has lived up to the advertising early on with the Mets. The 6-3, 230-pound righty hitter entered Wednesday's game, when he struck out as a pinch hitter, with a .310/.408/.690 slash line in 23 games. His eight homers and 21 RBIs led the team. He became the first Met with eight homers in his first 21 career games. His 14 RBIs from the seventh inning on topped the majors. He led all rookies in hits, extra-base hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks, total bases and runs.
“The defense, the power, the ability to drive runs in, the ability to lay off pitches -- he’s just been fantastic all around,” Callaway said. “I think the most surprising thing, and it’s not his defense, is his personality and his leadership.
“This guy is on third base yelling at our hitter that’s in the box that has 10 years in the league, going, ‘Hey, let’s go. Come on.’ He’s a leader. He’s a born leader. He was made for this.”
Defense was supposed to be the weak link in his chain of skills. “It’s significantly better,” Callaway said. “I’ve been very, very pleasantly surprised by the way he’s gone about his defense in-game.”
Alonso worked at it in the offseason.
“I take pride in all facets of my game,” he said. “That’s one of the questions that needed to be answered going into spring training and going into my rookie year.”
Asked whether he’s surprised that he has been this good overall this soon, Alonso said, “I don’t want to say that I’m surprised, but I’m just really happy that I’ve been playing well so far. It just justifies all the hard work that I’ve done throughout my life to capitalize on this opportunity. … In order to not let it slip, you’ve got to perform.”
The Mets could have sent him down for a few weeks after spring training to gain an extra year of control.
“He made it where we couldn’t do that,” Callaway said. “If you’re really truly here to win, you can’t not have him on your team.”
It isn’t hard to tell how genuinely happy Alonso is to be on the team.
“I’m so thankful every single day for this,” he said. “For me, this is a dream come true. Actually, it’s not just a dream. It’s a fantasy. To play like I’m playing and to be on this team, this is a special time.”