LOS ANGELES – Pete Alonso smiles and looks off into the distance. What is his favorite part of hitting a home run?
“I feel the ball coming out,” he muses. “Seeing the way. And then it’s gone.”
He can see how he is able to cross paths and how he can bring down others.
“Yes,” he says, laughing. “The whole thing.”
All-Star Week celebrates the people who are the best in the world at what they do, and perhaps no one in the world is as good as they are. Mets The first baseman is throwing bombs over and over again. As soon as 5pm Pacific on Monday, Alonso will take the field as the favorite to win his third consecutive Home Run Derby. Going with him will be People of color special assistant David Jauss, who as Mets bench coach last year put the ball exactly where Alonso wanted it 74 times in Denver. (Alonso’s cousin, Derek Morgan, rode for him in Cleveland in 2019, the first time he won.)
Even Jauss, who has been coaching big players for a quarter of a century, is amazed at what Alonso can do.
“Pete is the best,” he says simply. This is the guy who threw Manny Ramírez and David Ortiz. Is he just loving his new client?
He laughs. “The company is better now because of Pete’s success,” he says. “It’s great for our industry.”
Indeed, Alonso is a joy to watch. With his scowling face, sallow face and never-ending good looks, he looks more like a beer jock than a great player. Then he steps into the batter’s box and unloads on the baseball.
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He faced some challenges in the Derby: Supervisors first baseman Carlos Santana, Atlanta Ronald Acuña Jr. and Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019; and Royals catcher Salvador Pérez, Nationals right fielder Juan Soto and Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini last year. No one hit him. And that success has been profitable: In his first two Derbys, Alonso made more money ($3 million) than he did in his first three seasons with the Mets ($1.8 million.)
Alonso sees similar results in the regular season. Since debuting in 2019, he led the majors with 130 home runs, 19 past second base. But he seems to have the tools for the Derby, perhaps in part because he doesn’t change his style, the way other batsmen do. He says he tries to hit drives that clear the fence, just like he does in the regular season.
Jauss says that quality is very important. “Some players in the past – a few years ago up to 30 years ago – that I played with who had good strength like Pete Alonso, they were not good. [pure] strikers,” he says.
Alonso and Jauss became close during Jauss’ time with New York, which ended when the team fired manager Luis Rojas and most of his staff after the season. Dave and his wife, Billie, have dinner with Alonso and his wife, Haley, whenever they can and attended their wedding last winter. Jauss gets emotional when he talks about what that relationship means to him.
He said: “When I changed teams, the friendship didn’t change.
Alonso has participated in the last two Derbies without being an All-Star, but he hasn’t confirmed that he wants to attend one event this year. However, he and Jauss spoke in spring training about reuniting in Los Angeles. When Alonso made the All-Star team last Sunday, he joined Jauss-who was in London, helping with the MLB Home Run Derby X event. They agreed on a price: two pots of coffee (Jauss about twelve cups a day) and a case of Bud Light. Jauss returned to the US last week and arrived in California on Sunday.
Did the request mean more since it crossed team lines?
“It confirmed the friendship that our families have,” says Jauss.
Alonso said: “It’s in my baseball family.
Jauss politely says good: He has a busy day ahead of him. “I’ll leave around 1 o’clock in the afternoon,” he says, “and I’ll be on the field until Pete wins around 9 o’clock.”
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