Hitman

Subject: Yonder Alonso
Team: San Diego Padres
Target: Petco Park
Words By: David Perloff
Photos By: John Mireles
Opponent: L.A. Angels

Tonight, thousands of Finest City sports fans will root, root, root for the home team as the Padres face the Los Angeles Angels. For now, however, Petco Park sits empty-no fans in the stands, no pitcher on the mound, no umpires cleaning their contact lenses.

First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., eight hours from now. Who's on first? No one, yet, but the Friars' star first baseman just showed up for batting practice.


"Being a baseball player, it may look easy, but there's a lot of preparation that goes into it," says the soft-spoken Yonder Alonso. "We're not just sitting in the locker room hanging out, going online, we're working out, getting ready for the game, hitting in the cage."

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1987, Alonso joined the Pads this year, having spent part of the 2011 season with the Cincinnati Reds-and a lifetime knowing he wanted to be in the game.

"My dad was a baseball player, so growing up I was always around the games.
Now, the heavy-hitting 25-year-old is in the running to become the National League 2012 Rookie of the Year . But unlike a lot of professional athletes, No. 23 seems to accept rising fame with humility, acknowledging that converting natural-born talent into a Major League career requires hard work...and a lot of it.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1987, Alonso joined the Pads this year, having spent part of the 2011 season with the Cincinnati Reds-and a lifetime knowing he wanted to be in the game.

"My dad was a baseball player, so growing up I was always around the games. He said that since I could walk, I always had a baseball and a bat with me."

Now, the heavy-hitting 25-year-old is in the running to become the National League 2012 Rookie of the Year. But unlike a lot of professional athletes, No. 23 seems to accept rising fame with humility, acknowledging that converting natural-born talent into a Major League career requires hard work...and a lot of it.

"You have to take care of your body, the way you eat, the way you rest and the way you train," he says. "It's a full, year-round sport. I don't really take any time off."

Teddy Roosevelt said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Yonder Alonso may be the guy he was talking about. He doesn't talk a big game, he just plays one. Actually, make that 162.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"At the end of the game, it's easy to say, 'we can get them tomorrow.' but I don't really think about tomorrow," Alonso says, "I think, 'this is my last game I'm going to play and I gotta go all out.'"

Swing, batter batter, swing!

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