OAKLAND -- Yonder Alonso is homeward bound.Oakland's first baseman will return to Miami next week, as an All-Star, and the celebration in his adopted hometown will surely be grand."It's great. Hometown, the whole bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're all excited for him. For him, this is a special
OAKLAND -- Yonder Alonso is homeward bound.
Oakland's first baseman will return to Miami next week, as an All-Star, and the celebration in his adopted hometown will surely be grand.
"It's great. Hometown, the whole bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're all excited for him. For him, this is a special day, getting to go home. It'll be an exciting week for him."
Alonso, enjoying a breakout season after finding his power stroke, earned the first-time nod through the player's vote as a reserve. Toronto's Justin Smoak won the fan-elected starting assignment at first base.
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"Just so fortunate and obviously so blessed to have the opportunity to represent the Oakland A's, and going back to my home and where I grew up means a lot to me," Alonso said. "I'm just grateful for my peers. Obviously, I got the vote from them, and it just means so much to know they took it seriously and they know what's happening in the game. Just so thankful and very excited and full of emotions right now."
Alonso's family escaped from Cuba when he was 10, fleeing to Miami for a better life and settling not far from Marlins Park, the site of this year's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. A blue-collar attitude replicated from his parents earned him a baseball scholarship to the University of Miami, where he turned himself into a first-round Draft pick in 2008.
Alonso didn't find quick success on the big league stage, and for years he lacked the kind of power those within the baseball circle identify with first basemen. Amazingly, the most home runs he hit in a season before this year was nine, with San Diego in 2012. Through Sunday, he has 17 -- 10 of them hit in the month of May.
The 30-year-old has attributed the upsurge to a detailed critique and subsequent change of his swing mechanics, notably the addition of a leg kick he incorporated in the offseason after watching hours of video and chatting up countless peers. A transformative stance has his lower body in sync with his upper half, generating heaps of power.
The work has paid dividends for this first-time All-Star, who will be the A's lone representative in the July 11 Midsummer Classic. Melvin delivered the news to Alonso ahead of Sunday's game, a 4-3 extra-inning loss, telling him, "Congratulations, kid. You're going to Miami. You're going home."
Just last fall, the A's were contemplating whether to even tender Alonso a contract.
"The work doesn't stop," he said. "You gotta continue to battle and play the game. But from a personal standpoint, it definitely feels rewarding. You're looking at a guy who almost got non-tendered last year to now a guy that's in the middle of the lineup playing the game full of confidence."
The nod is well deserved among a crowded field of steady first-base competitors. Alonso ranks second among American League first basemen in on-base percentage (.374) and third in home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.561).
Fans can cast ballots for the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com, Club sites and their mobile devices until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will then be announced during "MLB Tonight" live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. Extensive coverage throughout the Final Vote will be provided by MLB Network and MLB.com, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns, and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.
Now in its 16th season, with more than 680 million votes cast, the Final Vote again will include social votes on the last day of balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the final six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.
On Tuesday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.