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Coleman: Alonso, Tebow Chomping At The Bit

Two Ex-Gators Have Important Spring Training

Ed Coleman
February 16, 2019 - 5:52 pm

There are a couple of ex-Florida Gators trying to crash the party at Mets spring training and force their way onto the major league roster come Opening Day. One unlikely, the other highly unlikely. But don't tell that to either one. They're not listening.

Alonso may not be there on March 28 in Washington, but he is not far away. When you hit 36 homers and drive in 119 runs with an OPS of .974 at double-A and triple-A in 2018, people take notice. New Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen traveled to the Arizona Fall League to inform Alonso that he would be given every chance to win the job this spring after his spectacular season, something Alonso deeply appreciated. "Communication is key and it meant a lot that he wanted to convey his feelings. I thought that was a very, very classy thing to do. I can only control what I can control. That's all I can do. Hit the ball, play good defense, and whatever happens, happens."

Defense has not been Alonso's calling card, his bat and power is what makes noise. But he has improved a lot under the tutelage of former major leaguer Steven Negron & Mets coach Tim Teufel, which has given him a lot of confidence. "It's kind of a combination of everything. Whether it be footwork around the bag, ground balls, picking, I mean I've elevated my game tremendously at first base and I've worked at every aspect of it. I'm really excited for games to start."

With his eye-opening statistics and the hard work he's put in, Alonso can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. "Ever since I was a young kid, since I was 3 years old, I've dreamt of becoming a major league baseball player. My first word was ball. I just really want it to happen. There's only 19,000 people that's ever been in the major leagues, ever, so to be a part of that brotherhood would be tremendous." And Met fans have been very vocal about wanting to see Alonso, and sooner rather than later.  "I love it and it's awesome that I have their support. I really appreciate that. Shout out to all the Met fans. Thank you guys for supporting me all the way through."

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It will be sooner rather than later for Alonso. Tebow is much more of a question mark but the progress he has made has surprised most people and shocked others. Tebow broke the hamate bone in his hand last July, but prior to that hit .273 with 6 HR and 36 RBI at double-A Binghamton. He will start the season at Syracuse, the Mets' new triple-A affiliate, which certainly should help attendance in upstate New York. Tebow is much more pragmatic about his chances of reaching the majors. "It's always a goal or a hope, but it's not defined by that. This journey is not defined by just getting there. I've already enjoyed it enough to say it's worth it. Would it be awesome? Of course it would. But at the same time, regardless of what happens, I know that I'll enjoy it every day, and I think that's the biggest thing for me."

Tebow has played a lot of football in his life, and the "grind" that he went through not only prepared him for baseball, but allowed him too embrace it. "I love the whole process. Training this morning, going to practice, taking BP, hitting in the cage. I love the grind of it.  I love the challenge. Football training camp?  I loved it! I think I was kinda weird that way, but I embraced it. I think I'm the same way with baseball. In spring training, every day, when you give me enough time, I'm going to make up that ground, those tiny little inches every day. Keep working, get a little bit better, and I feel this is a great opportunity to make that happen."

Two Gators. One sooner. Maybe one later.