Braves manager Brian Snitker impressed with Mets’ Pete Alonso at All-Star game

National League first baseman Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, works out during batting practice before the All-Star game, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

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National League first baseman Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, works out during batting practice before the All-Star game, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

NEW YORK – At last month’s All-Star game in Los Angeles, Brian Snitker, the National League’s manager, stood up in the clubhouse and looked around the room as he addressed his squad. He saw faces of competitors – ones he had long admired – looking back at him as members of his team for that night.

“Best in the world at what they do,” Snitker said.

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One of those faces: the Mets’ Pete Alonso, the slugger who is one of the central figures in what could become a renewed Braves-Mets rivalry. The game has changed since the 1990s, when these clubs hated one another, but the trajectory of both clubs makes you believe this could be a fun matchup for years.

In Thursday’s series opener at Citi Field, Alonso launched a two-run home run and scorched a run-scoring single off Kyle Wright in New York’s victory. Entering Friday’s contest, Alonso had two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs over eight games against the Braves this season.

And at the All-Star game, Snitker spent time around Alonso and came away impressed.

“Pete was awesome,” Snitker said Thursday. “What a nice kid. He’s kind of what he portrays: just a big kid that likes to play baseball. Just a very respectful, neat kid.”

The Braves have Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris and others who could be part of this NL East rivalry for a long time. The Mets have Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer and others. The Braves’ payroll could go up, while Mets owner Steve Cohen has promised to provide the financial resources to make the Mets a sustainable winner.

There is some steam to this rivalry – except, of course, when the Braves and Mets are on the same team during the All-Star events.

In Los Angeles, Alonso went up to Ron Washington, the Braves’ infield guru, and asked Washington for help.

“I told Wash, ‘What are you doing?’” Snitker joked. “I saw (Alonso) make a great pick or something the other day.”

“He asked me to help him at the All-Star game. I’m a coach, so that’s what I did,” Washington said in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I gave him five, 10 minutes of my time. I would’ve given it to anybody. … He was in the All-Star game. I’m a coach. And when a kid comes up to you and asks you could you give him some tips, you can’t turn him down.”

That is who Washington is, though. He loves helping people.

“He’ll work with the bat boys, the clubhouse kids, y’all (reporters) if you want to – he’ll make time to do it and show you how to do it,” Snitker said. “He’s just trying to make everybody better. It doesn’t matter. Which is the beauty of the man.”

Snitker wasn’t lying.

In an interview conducted a couple of weeks before Snitker said that quote, Washington said this of Alonso and others asking him for help: “It’s flattering. But to be honest with you, that’s what I do. If it was Little Leaguers or babies that wanted to try it, I would’ve done it. That’s just who I am. There’s no way I could’ve given him all my secrets in 10, 15 minutes, but he asked me for some things and I gave it to him.”

The Braves and Mets appear poised to contend for years. With contract extensions, the Braves have a talented and young core that will be together for at least the next five seasons. The Mets, with an owner ready to spend, could finally be a big-market behemoth.

These teams are fighting for the NL East. The battles will be heated.