FORT MYERS, Fla.
JetBlue Park is known as Fenway South because it has the same dimensions as the cherished ballyard up north, as well as a Green Monster, and the New England accents to match.
So using that as a reference point, we’ll try to give you an idea of where Pete Alonso’s third homer of spring training — swatted Saturday off Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg — would have traveled if this had been the major-league venue.
By our estimation, the ball was still climbing when it sailed well above the Monster, as fans pointed to the sky. That means well past Lansdowne Street, over the Cask ’n Flagon, and bouncing between cars en route to Kenmore Square.
“I haven’t seen too many home runs where nobody in the field moves,” Brandon Nimmo said. “That was pretty impressive. Literally no one moved. The only people that moved were people’s heads on top of the wall.”
Hang around Alonso enough and you get used to it. This is becoming a regular thing. Only the scenery changes.
The last time Alonso took a meaningful swing in a big-league stadium was during the Futures Games in July, and he crushed one of the longest homers we had ever witnessed at Nationals Park.
Alonso’s power is legit, at any level, as he showed last season by hitting 36 homers for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets know he has the ability to do the same at Citi Field, too. The question has been everything else, and he has provided the right answers thus far. He’s acing the test.
Once again, Alonso displayed good reflexes in the field Saturday, snaring a low liner off the bat of Andrew Benintendi and making all the plays in the Mets’ 10-2 win. He also had a seventh-inning single, which put his batting average at .423 (11-for-26) with three home runs, three doubles and six RBIs in nine Grapefruit League games.
“I think when you talk about Alonso, you talk about offense,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “But I knew the offense was going to be somewhat special. So for me it’s the defense and how locked in to a game he is every day. On first base, you have to be locked in on every situation, and he is very, very locked in. He’s helping the second baseman move around, understanding where they are when we’re shifting. So all the little things it takes to be a quality major league player, he’s doing them on defense. That’s probably been the most surprising thing.”
Remember that quote in another two weeks if the Mets suddenly come up with an excuse to send Alonso to Triple-A Syracuse, which would be a transparent ploy to delay his service clock for an extra year of team control. That still seems likely, given the financial ramifications and the fact that every other club does it, as unfair as the practice may be — not to mention a CBA violation. Callaway and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen insist Alonso will be on the Opening Day roster if he earns it, and Alonso has to feel as if he’s going to call their bluff.
“I’m just really happy with all the hard work and preparation coming together,” Alonso said. “Having tangible success in games, that’s really huge, and it’s a big confidence-booster. I’m really happy with how I’m playing right now. I’m just going to keep on continuing to prepare the best I can for each day and see what happens.”
The Mets probably won’t have Todd Frazier (oblique) as a first-base option by Opening Day, but the Mets can delay Alonso by going with Dom Smith and even J.D. Davis, who went 3-for-4 Saturday and also made a pair of nifty defensive plays at third base. Smith, who missed practically all of spring training last year with a quadriceps injury, is putting pressure on Alonso by hitting .435 (10-for-23) and providing a superior glove.
If this keeps up, it’s going to make for some difficult decisions later this month — and it could require some serious spin.
Callaway mentioned that all three are “battling for their major-league life right now,” and he went as far as to say that both Alonso and Smith could make the Opening Day roster. Then again, so could Smith and Davis, with Alonso being stashed at Syracuse until late April.
“We won’t be hesitant to take the 25 best guys,” Callaway said.
If Alonso has to take the service-time siesta upstate, we’ll miss him. So will the Mets. After Saturday’s Monster rocket, he gave a shoutout to his fiancee Haley — “a Boston girl,” he said — as well as her dad’s union shop. Apparently the home run was for them back there watching the game on NESN. “It was pretty cool,” he said.
Alonso enjoys putting on a show, as much as everyone else loves watching it.