If that guy squeezed into a kayak paddling through the waters around Tampa Bay looks a bit familiar, there’s a reason.
Tampa native and New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso has traded his bat for a paddle during the coronavirus delay to his sophomore season, he and fiancé Haley Walsh buying “quarantine kayaks” to help pass the time and stay in shape.
“I like being out on the water," Alonso said. “You’re not by anybody. So we’re just launching the kayaks and kinda cruising around. It’s a nice workout — good cardio, good for the shoulders."
Alonso shared his plans to keep active during a Sunday night Instagram live chat with Alex Rodriguez, the former All-Star and current ESPN analyst also looking for ways to stay busy besides making TikTok videos with fiancé Jennifer Lopez.
“I’ve been hitting as much as I could,” Alonso said. “Lifting, running. Just trying to stay in as much of baseball shape as possible. But it’s gorgeous weather in Florida right now so trying to soak it all up as much as possible.”
Alonso, who lives in a condo not far from his parents’ house, said he is also working on his culinary skills.
“I’ve been doing a lot more cooking,” Alonso said. “I love to cook. You know just as good as anybody, cooking during the season is not really that feasible because we’re just at the yard all the time — waking up, working out, doing our routine. But for me I really take joy in cooking. We’re going to fire up some steaks and do some stuff on the Traeger grill. … For me it’s a creative way to express myself with my cooking."
Alonso, nicknamed the Polar Bear by former teammate Todd Frazier, is pretty much a carnivore.
“I love any sort of barbecue, or steak, or well-cooked meat — that’s got to be the focal point in the dish,” Alonso said. “But I’m pretty good at some vegetables and some sides. I need to get better at desserts. But I think my nutritionist would be happy (that) I wasn’t making dessert. .. I love experimenting.”
And, like much of America, Alonso is also watching his share of Netflix. Most recently, he and Haley marathoned the popular series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the seven-part documentary with a distinct Tampa angle.
“It’s like a real live version of Trailer Park Boys (a Canadian mockumentary series); it’s fantastic," Alonso said.
And as for Tiger King star Joe Exotic?
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“That dude is nuts,” Alonso said. “Joe Exotic is a legit cartoon character. He’s still in jail but I think he should be on your next Instagram live. That’d be a special guy to interview. That guy is something else."
Given the unexpected time off, Alonso said he is trying to catch up, as much as he can, with friends and family. “Also, more than anything, I love sharing a nice bottle of wine with my fiancé,” he said.
Alonso, 25, and Rodriguez, 44, did talk some baseball.
Of note, Alonso, who won the National League Rookie of the Year award after hitting 53 homers last year, said he wants to play 15 more years.
“I want to play until I’m 40, or as close to 40 as possible,” he said. “And I know that during the season, during the early stages of my kids’ life, or me and my fiance’s kids’ life, it’s going to be tough for them to understand why is daddy gone so much. So I just want to be there for my kids. I want to be there to go to the Little League games or if they play basketball or football. Or if we have a girl and take them to dance lessons or volleyball practice or ice skating. It doesn’t matter; I just want to be a good dad."
He’d also like to take up golf, but wants to hold off for now fearing if he did his baseball swing “would just go right down the toilet.”
Alonso has also done his part to help others, making a number of charitable donations during his rookie season and, more recently, working to lift the spirits of medical professionals dealing with the coronavirus by reaching out on video calls.
He said he just likes being himself. "I just think of myself as Pete Alonso,'' he said. "I don’t think of myself as anything more. I think of myself as just a kid. I know I’m 25 years old but I feel like a little kid at heart. I’m living my fantasy, I’m living my childhood dream. All I’ve ever wanted to do is play professional baseball. I’ve been given that opportunity. I’ve worked for that.
“The game has given me so much. I just want to give back.”