"Braun got me these cleats," Alonso said with a smile, referring to Brewers leftfielder
Though Alonso and Braun are on track to one day be National League Central rivals -- and maybe before the end of the season -- for now they merely share the bond and friendship of having both played at the University of Miami. On Sunday as Alonso, a first baseman/corner outfielder and Cincinnati's most prized hitting prospect, participated in the 12th annual All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium, he was all too happy to rave about his new kicks and the experience of playing in a major-league ballpark.
"This is unbelievable," Alonso said. "I mean, wow. It's breathtaking, man, and this is only the visiting clubhouse. The field is unbelievable, and the balls seem to carry more because we're so excited."
For as close as many of these players are to the majors, they have still retained their sense of awe, even though Alonso and several of his Futures Game teammates and opponents -- most notably Phillies Triple A rightfielder
Two other players originally selected for this game -- pitchers
The U.S. beat the World 9-1
Brown is so highly regarded that the Phillies are not dismissing the possibility they'd trade starting rightfielder
With Rays fifth starter
Alonso, meanwhile, who went 1-for-4 with a single on Sunday, could just as easily be traded away to a rebuilding team and away from the excitement of a playoff push. His power numbers this year haven't been gaudy -- .266 average, .333 OBP, nine home runs and 10 stolen bases -- but he's been simultaneously learning to play the outfield with All-Star
When the prospect of moving from the infield to the outfield arose, Alonso consulted Braun, who made the same switch with the Brewers.
"He said the outfield was great," Alonso said. "It can help you get to the majors quicker and if you can play left and right, it opens some options up. Any time you can play more than one position, it helps."
Alonso worked out almost every day of the offseason with the Yankees'
Of course, Alonso still may not play in Cincinnati's outfield either.
When those rumors first circulated about his possible involvement in a trade, he consulted his friend
Brown, who beat out an infield single on Sunday but left early with mild tightness in his right hamstring, was the object of intense speculation both at least year's deadline and over the offseason when the Phillies pursued Blue Jays starter
"I don't know anything about that," he said. "I just go out and do the best that I can. If I were worrying about all the trade talk, I'd be hitting a buck-fifty."
Jenning -- who was 0-for-3 with a walk, hit-by-pitch, three runs and a stolen base in the Futures Game -- said that maintaining his patience is the hardest part, doubly so because he was primed for major-league consideration in spring training only to injure his wrist. Because of that ailment, he started slowly in the minors though he's picked up his game of late and now feels ready.
"I feel that way, of course," Jennings said. "It's not my decision, obviously, but I've got to be confident in myself."
Hellickson started on the mound for the U.S. and pitched two innings, striking out one while giving up two hits and one run. He doesn't care if the Rays want him to start, pitch in mop-up duty or set up the closer, like how
"I'll do whatever they want me to do," Hellickson said. "If that's to come out of the bullpen and eat up innings or to pitch in a big spot, it doesn't matter to me. I just want to be up there."
While the Futures Game is a fan-friendly showcase of up-and-coming talent, it's the curious exhibition when little of the focus is on the game the players are about to play and mostly on the ones they could be playing in August or September.