SAN DIEGO Giancarlo Stanton sent a record number of baseballs flying out of Petco Park at record speeds during last July’s Home Run Derby.
Eight months later, another such missile Stanton hit out of the Padres’ home ballpark helped keep Team USA alive on its run to its first World Baseball Classic championship.
Stanton is back in San Diego this weekend, this time with the Marlins, and hoping to create more lasting memories with his powerful swing.
“I don’t know what it is, being on the West Coast probably,” Stanton said. “It’s always beautiful here and a good time at the park. It’s a great baseball environment out here.”
It’s well-documented Stanton thrives at the plate on the West Coast.
Of his 106 career home runs on the road, 36 have come at the five National League West teams’ parks, and in only a combined 99 games.
Last year, Stanton put on a power display never before seen at the Home Run Derby, hitting an event-record 61 home runs and smashing the previous record of 41 hit by Bobby Abreu in 2005.
Those blasts covered a distance of 5.1 miles, one of which traveled 497 feet and five of which went 490 feet or more. He averaged 447 feet per home run.
“I just remember how much fun it was with all my teammates and my family in the stands,” Stanton said. “Just everything about it [was great].”
Stanton’s home run in the second round of the WBC this past March wasn’t just powerful, it was clutch.
Trailing the Dominican Republic in a must-win game, Stanton’s go-ahead, 403-foot blast that landed in the third-floor balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co.’s building in left field of the park put the U.S. on a course to victory and eventually the tournament championship.
“That was unreal,” Stanton said. “Not only how hard I hit it, but the timing of it and the significance of the game — everything in one.”
Petco Park, ironically, is where Stanton has hit the fewest homers among his NL West stops with five.
But Stanton has been more than just a home run hitter in his visits to San Diego with a career .434 on-base percentage — his highest at any NL venue.
Stanton entered Friday’s game with a career .292 batting average at Petco Park, his fourth-best average at any NL ballpark.
He has been committed to working on and being more consistent with his approach at the plate in order to increase his overall productivity at the plate.
After hitting his longest home run this season (446 feet) in Seattle on Monday, Stanton has four homers and is hitting .268 with nine RBI in 56 at-bats.
“It’s still going to be a work in progress completing that approach and sticking to it,” Stanton said. “Even when you have a bad couple of games you go, ‘alright, what can I do to maneuver out of it?’ You just have to stay the course and keep pushing.”
With Adeiny Hechavarria’s return from the disabled list, the Marlins had all of their regulars in the lineup Friday for the first time this season.
“It’s nice to have that,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It allows us to use [Miguel Rojas] all over the diamond. It allows us to use [Derek] Dietrich all over the place and then kind of match up a little bit more.”
Hechavarria said he felt no effects from the oblique strain that kept him out since April 8.
“I didn’t feel anything when I would swing,” Hechavarria said. “At first I was a little timid, but then I was fine.”
▪ The Marlins outrighted infielder Tyler Moore to Triple A New Orleans on Friday after he cleared waivers.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 4.61 ERA) at San Diego Padres RHP Jered Weaver (0-1, 4.24), 8:40 p.m., Petco Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (0-1, 5.40) at Padres RHP Luis Perdomo (0-0, 8.44), 4:40 p.m., Petco Park.