Nuñez, music star share mutual admiration

May 19th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

was throwing long toss with Trey Lipscomb during pregame warmups at Fenway Park last Saturday when a small crowd walked by the third-base line toward the Green Monster.

At the center of the group was dembow music star El Alfa. The world-famous artist from the Dominican Republic was the honoree of a Red Sox bobblehead that day and there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He also is a fan of the way Nuñez plays.

The rookie was surprised to hear the news.

“I was like, ‘El Alfa? What does he want to meet me for?’” Nuñez said.

Nuñez and El Alfa discussed Nuñez’s Dominican heritage on his father’s side. Nuñez also shared his interest in playing Winter Ball with Los Tigres del Licey. El Alfa, who has participated in the MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, including in 2021, said he would catch him at the LIDOM games if so.

“It was dope,” Nuñez said. “It’s always good to be recognized for something that you work hard for. Just like if a famous baseball player, whoever El Alfa admires, would come up to him and be like, ‘Your music is dope,’ he’d be like, ‘Wow.’”

Nuñez, 23, is in his first Major League season after being selected by the Nationals from the Marlins organization in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft. The speedy backup middle infielder has been tabbed in key pinch-run moments, including scoring the go-ahead run twice this week, and turning an unassisted double play.

In 12 games played (six at-bats), he has scored five runs and stolen two bases. He has a sprint speed of 29.8 feet per second, tied for sixth in the Major Leagues, with six competitive runs and three bolts (a run better than 30 feet per second).

“[El Alfa] was like, ‘You look good over there, papá,’” Nuñez said. “He told me, ‘You look like a top prospect.’ In my mind, I was like, ‘I was.’” (laughs)

While focused on baseball in his rookie season, Nuñez appreciates how El Alfa has approached his own career.

“I’m a fan of what he does,” Nuñez said. “He’s a businessman beyond just rap. Careers only last but for so long; sometimes, you’ve got to look outside the box, like, what’s next? I’m not thinking about that right now, but when my career is over, that might be something I look into.”

Nuñez has met rap artists in the past, including Ludacris and Kris Kross, but this encounter will stick with him.

“That was a good meet; that was a different meet,” Nuñez said, smiling and pausing. “He wanted to meet me.”