Alonso has grand birthday gift for his mom

March 4th, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Having fans in the stands meant something different on Thursday to , whose parents had made the drive from the Tampa area to watch their son play against the Nationals. On his mother Michelle’s birthday, Alonso made sure not to disappoint, cranking an opposite-field grand slam over the fence in right-center in the Mets' 8-4 win.

“Big shoutout, Happy Birthday, Mom,” Alonso said afterward. “Glad I could get a birthday bomb for you.”

The Mets were equally thrilled he could get it for himself, considering he did not homer at all in 14 games last spring. That lack of production seeped into the regular season, when Alonso clubbed 16 homers but finished with a .231 average and an .817 OPS.

Alonso's focus this spring has been chasing as few pitches out of the zone as possible while making hard contact on balls in the zone -- easy in theory, much more difficult in execution. So it was fulfilling for Alonso to crush a Cole Henry pitch 112.8 mph off the bat, coming away with his first Grapefruit League homer since 2019.

“It felt excellent,” Alonso said. “I was just trying to stick to my plan, get a good pitch to hit over the plate, and I got one. … If I can blend being consistent, making those type of short, simple, compact swings and minimizing chase, I feel like I’m going to be set up extremely well going into the season.”

The competition for the fifth starter begins

David Peterson’s bid to hold off Joey Lucchesi, Jerad Eickhoff and others for a rotation spot officially began on Tuesday, when he threw two scoreless innings against the Nationals. Shaky early, Peterson allowed a runner on a hit-by-pitch and a double before recovering to retire four in a row. He hit 94 mph on the radar gun.

When Peterson arrived at camp, manager Luis Rojas told him to expect a competition despite his success -- a 3.44 ERA in 10 outings -- last season.

“He laid it out for me and said he wanted me to compete,” Peterson said. “He wanted to see the hunger and the stuff that I had done in the offseason. I told him I was ready to come into camp and fight for a spot, and that’s been the goal.”

Mets cetera

Brandon Nimmo’s hot spring continued with a leadoff homer to right field. Nimmo finished 2-for-2 with a walk, bumping his Grapefruit League average up to .714 in three games.

Relievers Trevor May and Aaron Loup also made their Grapefruit League debuts, throwing a scoreless inning apiece. May hit 96 mph on the radar gun.

Twenty-one-year-old Brett Baty continues to make the most of his first big league camp, racking up his second opposite-field hit in two days. The latest was a single off Jacob Condra-Bogan.

The Class A Brooklyn Cyclones announced that longtime St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer will return as their manager in 2021. Blankmeyer had been slated to take over last year before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the Minor League season.