How Blaze became an instant D-backs fan favorite

March 30th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert's D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX -- It’s hard to catch without a smile on his face. The D-backs infielder is perpetually happy, someone who can find the sliver of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy day.

So you can only imagine the megawatt smile he wore on Thursday afternoon less than 24 hours after finding out he had made Arizona’s Opening Day roster.

The decision for the final roster spot came down to Alexander and veteran Emmanuel Rivera. Alexander had been a bundle of nervous energy during the team’s workout on Wednesday before being called into manager Torey Lovullo’s office.

Not only did Alexander make the roster, but he was in the starting lineup on Opening Day against the Rockies' Kyle Freeland. It was his two-run single that capped what proved to be a record-setting 14-run third inning.

Of course, it was that very same at-bat which will no doubt provide fodder for his teammates to tease him for the foreseeable future.

With a 2-2 count in the at-bat, Alexander took a pitch that he thought was ball four and started jogging down to first base.

It was only ball three, but no matter. The guy who finds the positive in everything managed to drive the very next pitch for his first Major League hit.

“I thought it was ball four and kind of embarrassed myself a little bit,” Alexander said. “But made up for it with that RBI hit up the middle.”

Lovullo enjoys Alexander’s personality and when he was asked about Alexander thinking he had drawn a walk on ball three, the manager laughed.

“That’s Blaze,” Lovullo said. “His heartbeat was probably through the roof and I thought he carried himself really well. Everyone was pulling for Blaze.”

D-backs fans certainly were, as spontaneous chants of “Blaze! Blaze! Blaze!” broke out when he came to the plate.

Before the game, Alexander said that he anticipated some nerves, but once the first pitch was thrown, he believed he would be fine. It turns out he may have underestimated the emotions just a bit.

“It was definitely 10 times more than I thought it was going to be,” Alexander said. “Just hearing the crowd -- I don't think I've played in front of even 20,000 people in the past, and to have 48,000, that was really cool.”