His first day back at the office a few days ago, Pete Alonso stepped out of the dugout at Citi Field, took a look around, walked over to first base. It had been a while. He put his hand to the ground to feel the dirt.

“I wanted to make sure it was real,” Alonso said.

It was real, and it was spectacular. And it gave Alonso an instant understanding of all he’d been missing, all he’d been craving, all he’d been pining for these last few months as he’d waited out a purgatory without the game, without crushing baseballs into distant destinations, without manning his position.

“Just being here, playing baseball,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I have a much higher appreciation for this game and for this opportunity. I loved what I do before, but now with this hiatus and everything going on I have this love affair for baseball, it made my love for it grow even more. It means so much to me and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.”