Giancarlo Stanton was going to get hit by a pitch sooner or later. It’s just that few imagined he would get plunked by one of his own teammates, and in an otherwise mundane “simulation” game on a practice diamond during the very first week of spring training.
But that’s what happened Saturday when Henderson Alvarez drilled the Marlins’ star outfielder in the left hip, a glancing blow that caused a clicking sound when the ball struck bone.
Fortunately for Stanton and the Marlins, it did no harm.
“I think we’ve all anticipated when that was going to happen,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s probably better to get it out of the way now. I know it’s been on all the pitchers’ minds when he steps in there.”
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Alvarez acknowledged having felt “a little bit nervous” when he pitched to Stanton on Thursday during live batting practice, Stanton’s first trip to the plate against a major-league pitcher since his face was shattered by a Mike Fiers pitch in September.
That spring exercise turned out to be uneventful, as Stanton watched five outside pitches go past without taking a swing.
Saturday was a different story.
After Brad Hand pitched to Stanton without incident, Alvarez took his turn on the mound and nailed the slugger on the hip.
“I cringed for about a tenth of a second until I realized it didn’t hit him in too bad of a spot,” said catcher J.T. Realmuto, who was behind the plate. “He’s built pretty good, so I knew it probably didn’t hurt him too bad. I don’t even know if he felt it. I think the baseball might have been hurt more than him.”
Stanton reacted nonchalantly, then gestured with his hand toward the mound and, in a joking manner, cursed at Alvarez in Spanish. Later, the two shook hands in the dugout.
“Henderson has a pretty good fastball,” Realmuto said. “He was just trying to throw an inside two-seam. He lives and dies with that pitch. Obviously, it’s pretty competitive out there, especially when you’re facing Stanton. All the pitchers want to get him out. He tried to throw that inside fastball, and it just got away from him a little bit.”
Stanton brushed off the plunking after he returned to the clubhouse.
“Feels good,” he said, anticipating reporters’ questions before being asked. “No thoughts —100 percent fine. Didn’t have one thought about it.”
Said Redmond: “The good thing is he turned the right way. He stepped out. He handled it fine and moved on.”
Stanton was wearing his new, custom-made helmet with a face guard for the first time, though it provided no protection for his hip.
“I’m gonna have to get a hip guard now, hang it off my belt,” Stanton said jokingly.
In addition to the new helmet, Stanton also wears an elbow guard.
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter either way, if you get hit or not,” Stanton said. “I’ll get hit again, eventually.”
Stanton said he liked the feel of his new helmet.
“Better than I thought, to be honest,” he said. “You can’t get it fully out of your vision, out of your peripheral, at least. But in terms of focusing on the pitcher, I had no trouble with that.”
Stanton said he doubts he will exchange the helmet out for a conventional one whenever he reaches base.
“I don’t want to be calling time, switching stuff out,” he said. “But if there’s a timeout or a pitching change, I might change it.”