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BSN Exclusive: Alonso at home, with family in San Diego

Patrick Lyons Avatar
September 9, 2019

 

Home is often where the heart is. 

But when your career involves being an athlete for hire, you have to go where the opportunity takes you. 

Those who spend the beginning of their career in one place grow as a person and as a professional, making a connection with the people and places. This becomes a home in some shape or fashion.

For ten-year veteran Yonder Alonso, San Diego and Petco Park was home for five seasons. 

After being traded to Oakland in the 2016 offseason, Alonso spent the next four years in the American League without a single interleague game bringing him back to the birthplace of California. 

It wasn’t until August 8 this year with Colorado that he was able to return to the spot where it all began. During the four-game set held adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter, Alonso was back in the swing of things, going 3-for-5 with two home runs and four runs batted in.

“I pretty much started my career (in San Diego),” he said, accompanied with a smile and pleasant delivery. “Had an incredible time there. Great opportunity for me and my family.”

During his tenure with the Padres from 2012 to 2015, Alonso had just one manager: Harry Ralston Black. And he couldn’t have done any better of a job. 

“He taught me how to be a pro,” Alonso said of Black. “Taught me how to come in everyday with the same attitude, the way he is, the way he approaches a game and the way he approaches how to communicate with guys. He taught me a lot.”

Black invested a lot of time with Alonso, who had only 69 games in the majors – much of which came in September as part of roster expansion – during parts of two seasons before joining the Friars. By MLB standards, he was still a rookie with less than 107 at bats. 

“I’m definitely always thankful for what he taught me and the way he kind of helped me become a better person and a better player everyday.”

The lessons from Black weren’t just by example or through osmosis. It was a routine. A disciplined approach about how to be a baseball player while being a responsible and respectable man. 

“Buddy used to bring me in his office every Monday, and we used to talk about how I would talk to the media,” Alonso detailed. “So he would kind of read all the stuff that was happening (in the press) and kind of taught me how to approach the everyday role. How to become not only a professional in-between the lines, but in the clubhouse and how I treat people from a janitor to a head clubbie to a manager to the owner of a club. It’s something that I’ll never forget.” 

The return to San Diego this season has been something on another level. Anticipation of the return four years after his departure is one thing, but coming home has evolved, thanks to a player in the opposing dugout.

“Obviously, I have another member of my family there, so it’s cool,” eluded Alonso of his brother-in-law Manny Machado. “The whole family will be there once again, so we’ll just enjoy time with the family and enjoy the city.”

While the Cuban-born Alonso has lived a nomadic life that began in Havana, before stopping in various small towns that populate the minor leagues, he is not worried about his next home nor is he without direction. 

“The only thing I think about now is today. What’s going on and that’s about it.”

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