Justin Ruggiano #20 of the Miami Marlins hits a two-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 7, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Giancarlo Stanton had it all planned out.
After the Marlins wrapped up Sunday afternoon’s game at Busch Stadium, the 22-year-old slugger was going to get into a car with teammate Logan Morrison and drive three hours west to Kansas City, Mo., to take part in his first All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. His father, Mike, a retired post-office worker who never missed any of his son’s Little League games, was taking a plane in from Los Angeles to share the moment.
That’s not going to happen now.
Stanton left Busch Stadium on Saturday before the Cardinals had even finished off their 3-2, come-from-behind win over the Marlins and boarded a flight home to Miami, where he will have arthroscopic surgery at 7 a.m. Sunday to remove a “loose body” of bone and cartilage fragments from his right knee.
Dr. Lee Kaplan, the team’s physician, will perform the procedure, which general manager Mike Hill said should take less than an hour.
Stanton, who leads the Marlins with 19 home runs and 50 RBI, is expected to be out of action anywhere from two to eight weeks. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has replaced Stanton on the National League All-Star team.
“We have to get through surgery and see where things stand,” said Hill, who met with Stanton shortly after he was pulled out of the game and replaced by Scott Cousins during the third inning Saturday — his first start since his knee began to bother him a lot more earlier this week in Milwaukee.
“It’s a fairly simple surgery, arthroscopic surgery, remove the loose body and he’ll be able to resume range of motion and get back to functional activities,’’ Hill added.
“Obviously, he wanted to represent the National League, but he made it clear he wanted to be there for the Marlins first and foremost.”
Hill said the Marlins will look to speedster Emilio Bonifacio, who is rehabbing at Single A Jupiter following thumb surgery, to help fill Stanton’s shoes when he returns to the team after the All-Star break. The Marlins will likely put Bonifacio back in center field and play Justin Ruggiano and Cousins in right field.
“There’s more than enough talent in that clubhouse, and guys will have to just continue to step up to help us win ballgames,” Hill said.
Stanton, who tested his knee Friday in front of team trainers and assistant coaches, made a running catch near the wall in right-center field in the first inning Saturday. He later singled to right in the second and scored on Ruggiano’s home run.
Stanton said Friday his plan was to play through the discomfort while managing his knee with treatment. He also said as long as the Marlins remained in the playoff hunt, and his knee wasn’t in danger of being injured further, he would hold off on a procedure until after the season.
But the discomfort got to be too much, according to manager Ozzie Guillen.
“He told me he didn’t feel comfortable,” Guillen said. “He said, ‘I can hit, but I can’t do anything else.’ I said the only time you hit and not run is when you take batting practice. As soon as I heard that, I told the trainer we have to move quick in another direction.Exercising caution
“He’s back when he’s back. We have to be careful with him. He’s not going to be back just to be back. We have to make sure he’s going to be out of surgery fine, do the rehab. And when he’s ready to play, we’ll put him back in the lineup. But that’s going to take a little while.”
Guillen said the Marlins, who fell to 41-43 with Saturday’s loss, will have to rely on speed now for more offense.
“It’s a big bat. This is our power hitter, our RBI guy. We have to change the way we’re going to play,” he said. “Boni is not a Stanton, but we can play a different ballgame. Everybody has to step it up a notch.” Lohse sharp
On Saturday, Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse (9-2) beat the Marlins for the third consecutive time this season. He pitched seven strong innings, giving up just three hits with one walk and four strikeouts. His only mistake was giving up the 445-foot, two-run home run to Ruggiano, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano (4-7) went just five innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs with two walks and four strikeouts.
He gave up all three runs in the fourth. Skip Schumaker drove in the first run with a single to left before Tony Cruz tripled down the right-field line, scoring two more runs.
Logan Morrison and Ruggiano both singled in the ninth with two outs. But Jason Motte got Donovan Solano to pop out to the catcher in foul ground to end the game. It was Motte’s 20th save.
The game, which began with a temperature of 106 degrees, was the hottest the Marlins have played in franchise history