Driving Florida's back roads with Maybin & Alonso
Small world, baseball. So it's not a shocker that Yonder Alonso knew a few Padres when he was traded from Cincinnati.
He was teammates with three current Padres at the University of Miami -- catcher Yasmani Grandal, outfielder Blake Tekotte and catcher Jason Hagerty -- on a Hurricanes team that was the No. 1 seed entering the 2008 College World Series.
But the best story is his acquaintance with center fielder Cameron Maybin.
"My first impression was, 'Geez, who is this guy?'" said Maybin, who first encountered Alonso when they were playing Florida travel ball as high schoolers.
Maybin was playing for the Midland Redskins, Alonso for the Florida Bombers.
When the two met, Maybin says, Alonso went 4 for 4 with three home runs.
"I still have the tape of that game," Maybin says.
Playing alongside Alonso for the Bombers: current Blue Jays catcher J.C. Arencibia , Reds pitcher Mat Latos (whom Alonso was traded for, ironically), Athletics second baseman Jemile Weeks , Twins third baseman Danny Valencia and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay.
"They were sick," Maybin says.
The Twins drafted Alonso in the 16th round that year (2005), but he passed and went to the University of Miami instead.
"I needed it," Alonso said. "I wasn't ready for pro ball. I needed more baseball in me, and I needed to mature a little bit more."
Sunblock Day: Cool Thursday, but the wind stopped and that made all the difference. As predicted, the high was right at 60 degrees.
Likes: Chris Getz, vying for a job as Kansas City's second baseman. Good kid. He loved the fact that I was wearing a "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band" hoodie in Royals' clubhouse (hey, it's been cold ... and he's from the Detroit area). ... Sour cream enchiladas and frozen strawberry margaritas at Los Olivos in Scottsdale. Perfect combo... Spotting a Culver's Frozen Custard in Arizona. ... Old Town Scottsdale. You can't go wrong. ... The Jacuzzi at my hotel pool, which provides some pretty solid therapy for this doggone oblique strain that has been nagging at me (yes, spring training can be tough for writers, too!).
Dislikes: Clocks changing Saturday. Ugh. I like the idea of it being light later and later. Love it. But man, I hate giving up that hour of sleep Saturday night.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"We're gonna need each other
"So I'll drive while you sleep
"And when I get too tired you can take the wheel from me"
-- Steve Azar, Hard Road