Pete Alonso, batting practice fastballs, and the thin air of Coors Field? It’s a formula near the heart of any home run enthusiast.
That goes for Alonso himself, who said Thursday that he will defend his Home Run Derby title if Major League Baseball invites him to do so. Consider that much nothing more than a formality; not only does the defending champion typically participate, but he is given the No. 1 seed by rule.
“I’m all in,” Alonso said. “I’m ready. If I get invited, I’d love to do it. I’d love to defend my title.”
Two summers ago, Alonso hit 57 total homers en route to dispatching Carlos Santana, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the 2019 bracket at Progressive Field in Cleveland. MLB did not hold a Home Run Derby last year due to the coronavirus, but the 2021 edition is scheduled for July 12 in Colorado. MLB recently moved the All-Star Game and related events from Atlanta to Denver, where Coors Field has long been home to one of the league’s most prolific offensive environments.
Alonso, who leads the Majors with 72 homers since he debuted in 2019, shouldn’t have much trouble using Coors as a launching pad. For practice, he hit his longest homer of the season out of Wrigley Field on Wednesday, clearing the left-field fence and bouncing it onto Waveland Ave. Statcast projected the ball’s distance at 429 feet, even though Alonso feels he hit it quite a bit further.
“I think Statcast kind of snubbed me,” Alonso said, laughing. “I think that ball did not go 429 feet, but that’s what the computer says. And I think the computer’s wrong.”
Even if that home run wasn’t one of Alonso’s personal longest, he counted it among the Top 5 favorites of his career, given its arc out of one of MLB’s most iconic ballparks.
“I talked to Pete on first base, and he said that’s all he’s got,” Cubs infielder Matt Duffy recalled of the conversation. “For a guy that size and with his talent, to be able to see that in person, I think is definitely awesome from the literal sense of the word. The fan inside of all of us, it’s just like, ‘Wow. That's amazing.’ That is something that very few people on the planet Earth can do.”
The longest home run of Alonso’s career was a 489-foot blast in Minnesota on July 17, 2019. He’s one of only 10 players to hit a ball that far since Statcast began tracking in 2015, though that homer wasn’t his favorite, either. Asked, what was, Alonso didn’t hesitate.
“Fifty-three,” he said, referring to his home run that set the MLB rookie record back in 2019.
A day after the Mets committed four errors in a 16-4 loss to the Cubs, manager Luis Rojas started Luis Guillorme at third base over J.D. Davis, who had committed three defensive miscues in two games. Guillorme also led off because outfielder Brandon Nimmo missed a second straight contest due to right hip soreness. (Kevin Pillar started in place of Nimmo, who was available off the bench.)
In addition, Rojas gave Jeff McNeil, who entered the night in a 3-for-20 funk, a game out of the starting lineup. Jonathan Villar started in his place.
“Mac hasn’t really clicked yet with his swing,” Rojas said. “We want to keep guys active, too. Villar has gotten a couple important hits for us in the last week.”
Reliever Trevor Hildenberger, who served up Javier Báez’s grand slam in Wednesday’s loss, became a roster casualty as the Mets optioned him to their alternate site to clear space for a fresh arm. The replacement was right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, one of three pitchers the team acquired for Steven Matz this winter.
A starter for most of his professional career, Reid-Foley worked exclusively as a reliever in Spring Training. He only appeared in two Grapefruit League games, pitching a pair of scoreless innings.
“This guy’s got good stuff,” Rojas said. “He’s got a swing-and-miss fastball. He’s got the slider. He’s got the split-change. He’s got some experience in there.”
Roger, Roger (McDowell)
According to a new navigational chart from the company Jeppesen, the FAA recently renamed several waypoints for pilots flying into LaGuardia Airport, which abuts Citi Field. Planes taking that route now must navigate through waypoints honoring the 1986 World Series champion team: GACAR, DRRYL, KEYTH, DCTRK, and SHAYY. (Waypoints are named phonetically, so that pilots speaking any language can say and understand them without issue.)