Mets icons Wilson, Alfonzo to manage Futures Game
Two former Mets postseason heroes will return to Queens to match wits against each other in next month's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Mookie Wilson and Edgardo Alfonzo will serve as managers for the U.S. and World teams, respectively, in the annual game on July 14.
Both Wilson and Alfonzo entered Mets lore for their clutch play -- Wilson in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and Alfonzo throughout the Mets' playoff runs in 1999 and 2000. Now, however, they will be guiding baseball's next generation of stars.
"It's big to be part of that event," said Alfonzo, who was named an All-Star in 2000. "All the players from each country and America participate in that event. It makes you feel really honored to be there."
Wilson was never named to an All-Star team during his 12-year playing career. He said that made his inclusion as the U.S. manager even better.
"Anytime you have the opportunity to be in the All-Star festivities and celebration, you have to consider it to be an honor," he said. "To me, it's special because I am no longer a player. It still means an awful lot to me."
The 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place at 2 p.m. ET on Taco Bell All-Star Sunday at Citi Field in New York and can be seen live on MLB.com, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Rosters for both teams will be announced on Wednesday.
For Wilson, the Futures Game will mark a return to the dugout. He served as the Mets first base coach from 1996-2002 and again in 2011. During his first stint as first base coach, Wilson had the chance to coach Alfonzo. Wilson described Alfonzo as the "ultimate professional."
"He was very detailed and I remember his work ethic," Wilson said. "As a person he couldn't be a nicer guy. I'm happy for him that he's still in the game."
After his time as the club's first base coach, Wilson returned to the Minor Leagues as a manager, first at rookie-level Kingsport from 2003-2004 and short-season Brooklyn in 2005.
But Alfonzo, unlike Wilson, has never even served as a Little League manager. He said he is looking forward to getting his first managerial experience on the big stage of the Futures Game.
"I would say it's going to be really interesting because it's the first time, but it also will be really fun," Alfonozo said.
To help him learn on the fly, Alfonzo said he will rely on his coaching staff, which will also have a Mets flavor. Former Mets reliever Neil Allen will serve as the World team's pitching coach, a role he presently holds in Triple-A Durham. Pedro Lopez, manager of the Mets Double-A affiliate in Binghamton, will also be on the staff. Jacques Jones will serve as the World team's hitting coach and Charlie Montoyo, Steve Scarsone and Julio Vinas round out the staff.
Alfonzo said his coaches will be especially important because of his lack of experience, both in making decisions in the dugout and with the players on the World roster.
"I think we'll work well together," Alfonzo said. "I think it's going to be easy because of the coaching staff."
The U.S. dugout will host a mini-1986 Mets reunion. Former Mets third baseman Howard Johnson will serve as the U.S. team's hitting coach, which is also his job with Triple-A Tacoma. The rest of Wilson's coaching staff is made up of pitching coach Brad Olman, Keith Bodie, Chris Cron, Andy Green and Dean Treanor. Carl Randolph, the Pirates Minor League athletic training coordinator, will serve as the U.S. team's trainer.
Wilson said he is looking forward to reuniting with Johnson.
"When you're around people you're familiar with, it makes it much more fun," Wilson said. "I'm happy for HoJo."
In the All-Star setting of the Futures Game, Wilson and Alfonzo likely won't have to make too many difficult decisions. But both are excited for the game and the rest of this year's All-Star festivities.
"It's an honor to be a part of it," Wilson said. "There's not going to be a lot of managing going on, but it's an honor to represent the organization."