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Birth name: Edgardo Antonio Alfonzo.
Born: November 8, 1973 in Miranda State, Venezuela.
Edgardo Alfonzo biography (bio):
Edgardo Antonio Alfonzo is an Major League Baseball infielder for the Texas Rangers. He bats and throws right handed, and is 5'11 and 187 pounds. Alfonzo has worn the number 13 since his major league debut, however switched to the number 12 in March 2005 giving former teammate, and current San Francisco Giants shortstop, Omar Vizquel the number 13 to honor not only the longevity of Vizquel wearing the number, but also because the wearing the number 13 is a term of respect and honor to Alfonzo and Vizquel's fellow countryman Dave Concepcion (all three from Venezuela). Alfonzo also wore the number 12 through some of his career with the New York Mets.
Alfonzo was signed by the Mets as a non-draft amateur free agent in 1991. That year he joined the Gulf Coast League Mets. The following season Alfonzo moved up and split time with the short season "A" Pittsfield Mets of the New York-Penn League and Class "A" Florida State League St. Lucie Mets in 1992. Alfonzo returned to St. Lucie the next season and played for them in 1993. In 1994, he was promoted to the Binghamton Mets of the Class "AA" Eastern League, and led the team in home runs and RBIs.
Alfonzo made his Major League debut on April 26, 1995. At the beginning he was a semi-regular fielder, splitting time at second base, shortstop, and third base with several others. During his rookie season, Alfonzo spent most of his time at third base while accumulating a .310 batting average after the mid-season break. In 1997 and 1998 he started regularly on third. After the 1998 season, the Mets signed third baseman Robin Ventura, and Alfonzo was forced to move to second base. While he was upset about the move at first, he became one of the best defensive second baseman in the league from 1999-2001. Alfonzo was part of the infield dubbed "The Best Infield Ever" on a cover of Sports Illustrated, along with Rey Ordonez, Robin Ventura, and John Olerud. Before the 2002 season, the Mets signed the aging Roberto Alomar, and despite Alfonzo's tremendous offensive and defensive contributions during the previous three seasons, he was forced to move back to third base. He remained strong defensively, however, he struggled on offense, and the Mets decided not to resign him.
Alfonzo had his first opportunity to display his clutch hitting ability to a nationwide audience in the 1999 playoffs. After finishing in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for the National League Wild Card, the Mets played a one game playoff to decide who would go on to the division series. In his first at-bat of the game, Alfonzo homered over the center field fence, providing the Mets with all the offense they would need as Al Leiter threw a complete game shutout. On the very next night the Mets played the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the Division Series. Facing the feared Randy Johnson, Alfonzo again homered in his first at-bat of the game, this time launching a two run shot to center field. In the ninth inning of the same game, with the score deadlocked at 4-4 Alfonzo launched a grand slam down the left field line to help seal the victory for the Mets. In 2000, playing against the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series, Alfonzo hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of game two, which would prove to be of immense importance as J.T. Snow launched a three run homer in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. The Mets would eventually win the game 5-4 in ten innings. In game three of the series with the Mets trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Giants brought in their dominant closer Robb Nen, who had not blown a save since the All Star break. Alfonzo responded by lining a ball down the left field line for a double to drive in Lenny Harris. Benny Agbayani would later homer in the thirteenth inning to win the game for New York. Alfonzo's knack for getting the big hit in the clutch spot had endeared him to many Met fans who still consider him one of the all time Met greats.
Coming off two excellent seasons in which he batted .304 and .324, Alfonzo had every reason to expect a big year in 2001. He had his best powers in 1999 (27 home runs, 108 RBI, 41 doubles) and 2000 (25, 94, 40), and at 27, he was at an age in which many hitters have their best season. However, Alfonzo suffered from a variety of injuries, including sore right hand, knee, thigh and a back injury from years before, costing him playing time and lowering his record to .243, 17 HR, 49 RBI. He finished 2002 with .308, 16, 56, and signed with San Francisco as a free agent in the off-season.
In 2003 Alfonzo struggled for most of the first half for the Giants. He was hitting .216 with 27 RBI at mid-season, but he hit .306 with 54 RBI the rest of the way, and performed well against the Florida Marlins in the NLDS, when he hit .529 (9-for-17) with five RBI. He had the lowest range factor among major league third basemen (2.46).
Alfonzo enjoyed a slight career renaissance in 2004 hitting for his career average although with reduced power numbers. But his career continued its downward trend in 2005 due to age, nagging injuries and reduced playing time in favor of Pedro Feliz. As a member of the Angels, Alfonzo's playing time further decreased in favor of younger players. After hitting .100 for the season in late May, the Angels released Alfonzo, whose agent had gone public in demands for a trade for lack of playing time, on May 20. On May 26, 2006, Edgardo signed a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and was soon called up to Toronto to help the Jays' injury and error riddled middle infield. He was released on June 12, after appearing in only 12 games for Toronto.
Despite his injuries, Alfonzo remains one of the best defensive infielders (2B/3B) in the majors. He has great range and instincts for the positions, ability to turn the double play, and his arm, though not the strongest around, is considered above-average.
Legend has it that Alfonzo had a devout following while in New York known as the AAA, the Association for the Appreciation of Alfonzo. The group showed up at batting practice with a Venezuelan flag with the purpose of attracting attention to his underappreciated talent. While the group made an appearance in San Francisco, the AAA eventually dissolved after the Mets did not re-sign Alfonzo.
In July 2006, Alfonzo signed a contract with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
After appearing in just four games with the Bluefish, Alfonzo's contract was purchased by the New York Mets on July 15. Alfonzo reported to the then-Mets Triple-A affiliate Norfolk Tides with hopes of making it back to New York.
In February 2007, Alfonzo returned to the ALPB, signing with the Long Island Ducks.
On December 14, 2007, Alfonzo signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training with the Texas Rangers. He may get a roster spot later in the season.