1/19/2008 07:13:00 PM

A-Rod Turns Mentor For One Lucky Kid

Posted by Mark McCray |

Just read a really good article in the Miami Hearld this evening. Apparently, A-Rod has taken on the role of mentor for the lucky first baseman of the Miami Hurricanes, Yonder Alonso. Here is a bit of the highlights.

Yonder Alonso walked up to the star one morning in December as Rodriguez rode a stationary bike in the UM weight room.

''I told him whatever race he would do, I would beat him,'' Alonso said. ``He found that pretty funny, and after that [he] said all right, lets go run.''

For more than five weeks, Rodriguez and Alonso arrived at UM by 6 a.m. and would finish by noon. Sometimes they would have a light workout in the evening, practicing fielding, hitting and running.

''I'm very private about my workouts, and he's really the first kid in 10 years that has joined me like this,'' said Rodriguez, 32.

Alonso, who starred at Coral Gables High, had a stellar sophomore season last year. Baseball America has rated him as one of the top five collegiate players in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft.

But he wanted to improve and help UM capture the College World Series. Most of all, he wanted to learn from Rodriguez.

The collegiate star put his plan into motion to seek Rodriguez out after seeing him many times on TV. Last winter, he got an up-close look at the slugger by watching him hit at UM, a place where Rodriguez has worked out during the off-season for the past 10 years.

''He might be one of the greatest players of all time,'' Alonso said. ``I said I need to get a hold of this guy somehow.''

The two joked around and discussed everything from baseball to movies while working out. Rodriguez, who played at Miami's Westminster Christian High, sees himself as a big brother to the UM standout.

''I want him to use me as a measuring stick,'' he said during a break from working out one morning while sitting in the dugout at UM's Mark Light Field. ``I know when I was his age I would be around major-league players, and it did wonders for me.''

Alonso has ''gotten into a circle that's almost impossible to get into,'' said Yankees first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, a Westminster Christian schoolmate who played with Rodriguez.

On a recent day, Rodriguez, Alonso and Mientkiewicz -- an occasional participant in the workouts -- were drenched in sweat and catching their breath between sprints.

Mientkiewicz described the Rodriguez off-season workout plan as ''insanity'' but acknowledged it helped push Rodriguez to hitting 54 home runs and driving in a career-best 156 runs last season.

''How many guys would have the year he had and get back to work and do more than what he did the year before? Yonder keeps up with him pretty well,'' Mientkiewicz said. ``If Al didn't like him he wouldn't be doing it.''

So why did Rodriguez take to Alonso, and what he is striving to accomplish?

''He wants this dream of his very badly, and it's refreshing to see,'' Rodriguez said.

''I was honest, and he saw that,'' Alonso said. ``I was willing to work and willing to go all-out and not willing to quit. I was a workaholic. I'm like him.''

Alex Rodriguez is a machine. With a workout ethic like A-Rod's-- look for his 2008 season to be even greater than that of his 2007 season.

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