NORTH PORT, Fla. — Pete Alonso, in a sense, feels as if he spent the last two weeks adding to his postseason experience.
Limited to three playoff games last year in his postseason debut because of the Mets’ early October exit, the first baseman savored playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and receiving another dose of high-intensity competition.
“It’s just an addicting feeling,” Alonso said Thursday upon rejoining the Mets for their 2-2 Grapefruit League tie against the Braves. “And to play playoff type baseball early this year I think is going to be an extremely important experience and learning thing for me.
“I am just happy I did it because I got a taste of playoff baseball, it was short-lived, only three games last year, and the result wasn’t there but I wanted more. And to be able to jump right in during spring and be able to experience that and participate, it’s really special.”
Jeff McNeil and Adam Ottavino, two other Mets who played for Team USA — which lost to Japan in Tuesday’s tournament final —were scheduled to work out in Port St. Lucie in the sprint to prepare for next Thursday’s opener in Miami.
Alonso appeared in five games in the tournament and went 2-for-14 (.143). Alonso, who was behind reigning National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt on the depth chart, said he “100 percent” would like to play in the next WBC, which is scheduled for 2026.
He cited the camaraderie of playing with some of the game’s biggest stars for a prolonged stretch with national pride at stake.
The tournament final ended with Shohei Ohtani striking out his Angels teammate Mike Trout.
“The result wasn’t the best, but I wish obviously Mike had gotten on, but Shohei executed it and good for him, good for them, good for Japan,” Alonso said.
“Usually an All-Star Game, even though it’s a great event, it’s kind of a ‘hi and bye’ type thing. But to be actually in [a tournament] and competing at an extremely high level, not just playing the game but competing for your country, it’s really special to have that national pride.”
Alonso is returning to a team that lost All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to an injury at the tournament.
Diaz, celebrating on the field following a Team Puerto Rico victory, tore the patellar tendon in his right knee and underwent surgery.
The likelihood is Diaz will miss the entire season.
“The one thing I am going to miss is who he is as a person, his impact in the clubhouse on a day-to day-basis, not just on the field,” Alonso said. “We are going to miss him on the field, but I know we have got some bad dudes ready to step up. We have talent and guys that I know are going to be ready to step up. I’m excited. I’m excited to see how we face adversity and adversity comes in many forms and hopefully Eddie has a healthy and speedy recovery.”
In Diaz’s absence the Mets will count heavily on veteran arms Ottavino and David Robertson, but also Drew Smith and lefty newcomer Brooks Raley. The Mets will need others to backfill the bullpen.
“One can be hopeful that [Diaz] comes back and pitches in the playoffs, but his body is going to pretty much dictate everything, so I just want him to get back as quickly and healthy as possible,” Alonso said. “We are going to miss him, but we have got some talented individuals that are going to step up.”