The Brooklyn Cyclones started their press conference on media day with a new addition to the ballpark. During the offseason, the Mets Single-A, short-season affiliate worked with community members to develop a suite designed for kids who are on the Autism Spectrum.
The new facility, The Puzzle Piece Playhouse, is a sensory safe space with toys, games and tools for kids and their families. The Cyclones partnered up with Curemark, LLC and also received a large donation from Michael DeCillis and Karen Santana.
In a press release, Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen said, “Our organization is focused on making all fans feel welcome and safe when they come to MCU Park. The Puzzle Piece Playhouse is the newest way we have achieved this goal. We’re excited to be able to provide a way for a new group of fans to come and experience Cyclones baseball.”
Puzzle Piece Playhouse will open its doors on opening day for the Cyclones on June 14, 2019, and is free for attendees.
After the press conference, the 2019 Cyclones took the field for practice gearing up for opening day. Manager Edgardo “Fonzie” Alfonzo is excited for the upcoming season as he suits up for his third year leading the team.
“Last year we were so close to go to playoffs. I think that what we have last year was good enough. Too bad we came up short, but looking forward this year to the guys get better, a better job and hopefully the guys know how to play big,” said Alfonzo.
Having a team made up of players from all different levels of experience, with four men who’ve spent time in Brooklyn, and 13 guys moving up from Kingsport, Alfonzo is set to help players develop, but still win games
“I think if we as a coach we want both, we want to develop a guy and learn how to win games and think the combination is going to be good this year. I haven’t seen the guys yet, the first time I’ve seen personally the new guys and hopefully, they bring something to the table,” said Alfonzo.
One of those players who has moved up from Kingsport is catcher Phil Capra. Originally from North Salem, NY (and also a Yankees fan), Capra is familiar with MCU Park. He attended Wagner College where he spent a few games playing on Coney Island.
“The first year I went to Kingsport, Tennessee and that was obviously a big change from Staten Island and being close to the city. Kingsport is a small city, so that was definitely a big transition for me. But you know, coming back here, it’s awesome, it’s like almost playing at school,” said Capra.
Current Mets stars, INF Jeff McNeil, 1B Pete Alonso, and OF Michael Conforto got their start in MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. With pictures of McNeil, Alonso and Conforto, Capra has more inspiration as a player.
During the offseason, Capra worked on his conditioning as a catcher and as a switch hitter. He says he has more control as a right-handed batter and more power batting from the left side.
“During the offseason was definitely my conditioning and my physicality and stuff. Getting more flexible for catching, getting in better shape, a little bit more agile with quicker. That was, that was something big that I worked on,” said Capra. Adding that he has been, “switch-hitting my whole life ever since I picked up a bat. You know, my dad, five foot 10, my mom was five foot two. He knew I wasn’t going to be a big guy. So he thought the quickest way for me to make it was being a switch-hitting catcher.
“We have some guys in our organization that had just started switching. I think it helps me, especially with our hitting coach because he was a switch hitter his whole career since junior year of high school, I think he started switch-hitting. So it’s awesome working with him because he knows the work you need to put in.”
The Brooklyn Cyclones season opener is June 14 against the Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park.