SEATTLE — Yonder Alonso plans to take full advantage of his All-Star Game experience, regardless of whether his name even appears in the box score.
It’s a homecoming for the Miami resident, who estimates he’ll have about 50 tickets lined up for every day of festivities at Marlins Park, beginning with Monday’s Home Run Derby.
There’s also another payoff for the A’s first baseman — the opportunity to soak up knowledge from the best baseball players on the planet during the one time of the year they all gather in the same place.
“My brain’s gonna be turned on completely,” Alonso said.
The eight-year veteran is an All-Star for the first time, and his storybook season continued Saturday night when he connected for his 20th homer in the A’s 4-3 win over the Mariners. He has more than doubled his previous career high of nine coming into this season.
On Sunday night, Alonso and his family will share a chartered plane with Mariners outfielder (and fellow All-Star) Nelson Cruz for the long flight from Seattle to Miami. Once there, Alonso has a list of players he wants to chat with.
One is Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who was busy putting together an N.L. MVP season in 2010 when Alonso made his major league debut that year with Cincinnati. The Reds would trade Alonso to the Padres before the 2012 season.
“I just understood the work ethic that he brought every single day, the focus he brought every day,” Alonso said of Votto. “I just wanna talk to him and see how he’s handling different things.”
Specifically, Alonso wants to compare notes with left-handed hitters like himself. He plans to link up with Toronto’s Justin Smoak and the Mariners’ Robinson Cano, a division opponent that Alonso doesn’t get to fraternize with much during the regular season.
“He’s one of my favorite hitters of all time,” Alonso said of Cano. “He has a knowledge for hitting, for approaches, and he’s a really smart player. he knows how to make adjustments.”
But the week will be about more than baseball for Alonso, whose compelling family story is well-documented. When he was a young boy, his family defected from Cuba and settled in the Miami area. His parents, Luis and Damarys, held down multiple jobs to support Yonder and his younger sister, and Alonso himself would work alongside his father even after he began playing baseball collegiately for the University of Miami.
Now Alonso looks forward to reuniting with family and friends, and relishes the chance to share the All-Star experience with his father.
One thing Alonso won’t spend the All-Star break pondering are the trade rumors that surround him. Considering his big numbers this year and the fact he’s due to become a free agent after this season, Alonso is a logical trade candidate as the last-place A’s will be sellers at the July 31 trade deadline. The Yankees are one team that’s been linked to Alonso.
“I really don’t even process it to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve seen guys stress about it for two or three weeks, then nothing happens. And I’ve seen guys not really care about it and go about their business and play the game. That’s the approach that I wanna take. Obviously I’m aware of what’s happening. But I understand I have a job to do, and that’s play baseball every single day an the rest is out of my control.”