Alonso's first-hit ball going to his dad

Alonso's first-hit ball going to his dad

ST. LOUIS -- Reds rookie Yonder Alonso's stuff is all spoken for.

As a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Saturday's 6-1 win over the Cardinals, Alonso blooped a ground-rule double to left field. Matt Holliday attempted a sliding catch, but the ball bounced off of his leg and went into the crowd for Alonso's first Major League hit.

"I told [Cardinals second baseman] Aaron Miles, 'Hey, somebody better get that thing. If not, I'll go get it myself.' But I saw them try and go get it," Alonso said.

Alonso did get the ball and also received a lineup card autographed by the team. Those mementos, plus his spikes and bat, are going to members of his family. His parents were at Busch Stadium for all three games this weekend.

The coveted first-hit baseball is reserved for the 23-year-old Alonso's father, Luis, who was a professional ballplayer in Cuba. Luis and his family defected to the United States when Alonso was a 10-year-old boy.

"He's just done so much for me and has always been there for me," Alonso said. "I came here to the States because of him. He left his dream of playing baseball for me. I'm playing for him now. It's pretty emotional."

Alonso, the Reds' first-round Draft pick in 2008, batted .290 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in 132 games with Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville before he became a September callup once rosters expanded on Wednesday. The first baseman struggled in the early part of the season but credited switching to a lighter model of bats before catching a spark.

With Joey Votto firmly cemented at first base for the Reds, Alonso is limited to mostly pinch-hitting duty. So far, he's had only two plate appearances but is learning how to handle the less-than-predictable role.

"It's tough if you've never done it, like me," Alonso said. "The veteran guys here have helped me so much with it -- like Miguel Cairo. I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm more prepared for it. I have a routine. In the fourth inning, I stretch. In the fifth inning, I go for a run and then hit off a tee. In the sixth, I'm taking BP or hitting soft tosses. I feel like I'm game-ready."