Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso gave Class Act Sports an inside look into how he got to the big leagues and his daily routine during spring training prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Growing up in Cuba, Alonso said his dad was a ball player but gave up his dream and came to the United States to provide a better life for he and his sister.
“My dad was a baseball player in Cuba so he left that for us…he left his baseball career, he left his family there he left everybody there for a dream for me and my sister. Obviously getting to the big leagues was a big step for me but not only for me but it felt like my dad got to the big leagues too. Any chance I can get to bring him around and definitely hang out with me, he comes around all the time and I try to make him feel like he is a big league, too because he missed all that,” Alonso told Class Act Sports in Florida during spring training.
Every player remembers their first at bat and hit, and Alonso had no problem recalling the circumstances in which he got his first hit. It was in 2010 when he was with the Reds.
“That was nuts. Talking about a packed house. It was when St. Louis and the Reds were battling for first place. I think we were two games out of first place and they were in first place and we needed to win those games. I remember I was in the dugout and it was my first time in a big league stadium and I kept looking up like, “wow this is unbelievable. I cant believe they are here watching us play’. There was about 45,000 there and they told me, ‘Hey get ready. You are going to pinch hit in the eighth. We had the lead at the time. I think it was 3-1. It was a FOX game so it was nationally televised so my heart was pumping, and I get in there and I remember just saying ‘Just make contact. Don’t strike out. See what happens,’ and sure enough I hit a double down the line to left field,” Alonso said.
What made it more special was that Jon Jay, his good friend and former teammate at the University of Miami, was in the outfield at the time.
“Jon Jay was in center field. I wanted the ball really bad. I kept looking at Jay in center field. He didn’t even want to look at me. These two guys from Miami played college ball together. It just meant a lot,” he told Class Act Sports.
Alonso hasn’t forgotten his dad, who helped him get to the big leagues, saying he calls him often to talk about everything, and always thinks about his dad after everything he does on the field.
“For him, it was one of those moments where I was on deck and I was looking at him and he was crying and he just felt like he had made it. Any time I get a hit or I get a double, it’s like he got it, too. Or if I go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, it’s like he struck, out too. He’s my best friend. He is my dad,” Alonso told Class Act Sports.
After spending the entire season with the Padres last season and putting up nine home runs and 62 RBIs, Alonso is on pace to better those numbers this season. He has four homers, 23 RBIs and is batting .275 through 37 games. How does he stay consistent?
“I make sure I get really tired before I hit so that way it goes into my hitting. So that way when it’s September, October, I’ve been here before. It’s something that I’ve done before. I’ve been tired but mentally I am strong. I am focused. Everybody’s fresh when it’s April. Later on when the season rolls around…that’s when you really need to lock it down,” Alonso said.
And in case he is ever mired in a hitting slump, Alonso knows his defense need to be sharp. He has made one error in 338 chances this season.
“Not all the time hitting is going to be there. A lot of the time its not going to be there, but you’re defense needs to be there 100 percent because that will definitely save you ballgames, win you ballgames and not only can it win you ballgames but…I play first base. I can save someone’s error, and I can save the game in one play. You might be 0-for-4 that day and having a bad day hitting, but ninth inning rolls around, they hit a line drive to the right, you gotta dive for it, you gotta catch it, you gotta make a good feed to the pitcher, you win the game,” Alonso told Class Act Sports.