02/20/2003 12:29 pm ET
Alfonzo ready for Giant year
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New Giants third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo loves New York, so it was only fitting that he was nearly trapped in the city by the mammoth East Coast blizzard as he tried to make his way to Arizona for Spring Training.
But thanks to a let-up in the storm and some help from a friend who works for an airline, Alfonzo made it to camp in time to join the rest of the squad for their first full workout Thursday.
"That's great, after all the snow, coming here to this weather," said Alfonzo, who signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Giants after the Mets declined to offer him arbitration this winter, ending his eight-year career in New York.
"The first day is always exciting. You get to know guys, you get to know the organization, you get to know where you're going to be for the next couple of years. You get familiar with everything. That's a great feeling."
Although Alfonzo felt disappointed by the Mets' decision to end negotiations with him, an outpouring of support from outraged fans led him to thank the city in a very special way: with 30 taxi-top advertisements expressing his gratitude to the fans.
The ads, which started appearing atop cabs in Queens and Manhattan on Valentine's Day and will run for 30 days, say "Fonzie (heart) NY" and "Edgardo Thanks You!" and include a picture of Alfonzo wearing an FDNY cap and facsimile of his signature. The gesture will cost more than $15,000.
"The idea came to appreciate the fans and tell them I really appreciate the great support they gave me in my years in New York," said Alfonzo, who credited the idea to Chris Leible, an assistant to agent Peter Greenberg and son of Mike Leible, president of Medallion Media, which sells the cab-top ads.
"It was something simple. We decided to do it on the yellow cabs because this is a great symbol of New York. Hopefully [it's] something for the fans and they enjoy that."
As much as Alfonzo hated to leave New York -- he was voted by fans to the "All Amazin' Team" as the best second baseman in the club's 40-year history last season -- he's excited to be joining the National League champion Giants. The 29-year-old appreciated the zeal San Francisco showed in pursuing him and that the team had no concerns about the back injury that slowed him in 2001.
"Today, I was trying a new uniform on, and that was exciting," he said. "This is a competitive team, and we all know that we have great talent to go to the World Series again. ... This is our goal. My goal is to try to help as much as I can and try to go up there and do my job. Whatever happens, I'm just trying to do my best."
Last year, Alfonzo batted .308 but with only 16 home runs (down from 27 in 1998 and 25 in 1999) and 56 RBIs. He noted that part of his struggles came from hitting behind the slow-footed Mo Vaughn and Mike Piazza, as well as a brief stint on the disabled list with a strained side.
"I think I hit pretty good with men in scoring position last year," said Alfonzo, who batted .330 with two homers and 33 RBIs in such situations. "I know my power was down, my home runs went down a little bit, but I feel happy the way I played last year with all the problems that we had. This year, I try to put everything in the past, for now, for this year, I'll try to be the guy I'm supposed to be."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.