Alonso: Mets on the brink of something extremely special

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso returned to his old high school Saturday for a charity event being held just a long home run away from the residence of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

It was only natural that a question would come up referencing the big-spending Steinbrenner and Mets owner Steve Cohen, who went on a major shopping spree this offseason.

Asked if he had a sense of what it would’ve been like to play for the demanding Steinbrenner, Alonso said he didn’t know.

“There’s only one way to find out, and that’s just to keep watching as it unfolds. I feel like that we’re on the brink of something extremely special and I know we don’t just want to win just one, we want to win multiple championshps.”

The Mets haven’t won the World Series since 1986.

Alonso grew up and resides in Tampa, and went to the city’s Plant High School.

On Saturday, The Alonso Foundation held the inaugural Battle For The Bay, a youth home run derby for boys and girls playing baseball and softball in the greater Tampa area at the school about a half-mile from the Boss’ home. Proceeds will be used to refurbishments to local baseball and softball fields.

Entering their third season under Cohen, the Mets signed free-agent ace Justin Verlannder. They also added starting pitchers Kodei Senga and José Quintana, retained center fielder Brandon Nimmo and closer Edwin Díaz, and signed reliever David Robertson.

“Honestly, I didn’t really have any input,“ Alonso said. ”I just kind of sat back and just kicked my feet up and just watched. I think that making some additions was awesome. We have a great core of kids. We have great talent, and I feel like we made some really positive additions. So, it’s going to be real exciting.”

Verlander, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, joins former Detroit teammate Max Scherzer atop the rotation, and effectively replaces Jacob deGrom, who left New York and agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract with Texas.

“Jake’s a great guy,“ Alonso said. “He’s a great teammate. It’s unfortunate. That’s just part of the business. Obviously, I’m going to miss having him but Justin Verlander is going to be great. He’s obviously an extremely decorated pitcher, very accomplished.”

“Losing Jake, it’s bittersweet because yes, I lose a great teammate, lose a good pal, but again we get another high-caliber pitcher to pitch in our rotation,” the first baseman said.

Alonso also nearly became teammates with Carlos Correa. The star shortstop, however, on Tuesday agreed to a $200 million, six-year contract that keeps him with the Minnesota Twins after failing to complete deals with the Mets and San Francisco Giants.

Correa agreed to a $315 million, 12-year deal with the Mets, but they had concerns like the Giants about his ankle after a Dec. 22 physical and held off finalizing the agreement while attempting to negotiate protections over the next two weeks.

“People would ask like, what’s going on?” Alonso said with a smile. “I don’t know. Me and Steve aren’t talking about it.”

Alonso avoided arbitration on Friday, agreeing to a $14.5 million, one-year deal. He nearly doubled his 2022 contract of $7.4 million, a year in which he tied Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the major league lead with 131 RBIs.

“Yesterday was really special,“ Alonso said. “I never thought as a young kid thinking back on it that would be a possibility.”

Alonso has been hitting for three weeks and connected on a pair of homers estimated at over 400 feet in a pro home run derby. Other participants included Houston star Kyle Tucker and former sluggers Travis Hafner and Carlos Peña.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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