He didn’t win the Home Run Derby and went hitless in his first All-Star Game.
Still, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton went home from this year’s Midsummer Classic with an experience he said he will always cherish.
“It was incredible, something I’ll never forget,” Stanton said moments after the Angels’ Mike Trout earned Most Valuable Player honors after leading the American League to a 5-3 victory at Target Field late Tuesday night.
“I had a wonderful time here. The Home Run Derby stuck out the most for me because I didn’t do much [Tuesday] at the plate. The whole atmosphere, the whole aura of it just combines as one. You can’t pick one particular thing because there are so many aspects I can cherish.”
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Stanton, 24, missed his first shot at the All-Star experience two years ago when he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to his right knee. Last year, a hamstring injury allowed him to play in only 51 games in the first half of the season and he struggled, batting .250 with 10 homers and 27 RBI.
How much did he want in this year? “Real bad,” Stanton said. “Last year it didn’t work out and all that. I think because I was so close two years ago, a day away [before the injury and subsequent surgery], I said ‘I’m not going to overdo it’ [towards the end of the first half of this season] because I’m right there.”
Although he didn’t get a hit Tuesday, Stanton was put in a tough situation in all three of his at-bats. Not only was he forced to lead off the inning each time, but he also had to face a trio of tough left-handers including two — Boston’s Jon Lester and Chicago’s Chris Sale — he had never faced before.
Lester got Stanton to pop out to second base in the second inning. Sale retired him in the fourth on a long fly ball to center. And Oakland’s Scott Kazmir, whom Stanton was 0 for 3 against in his career, struck him out on a slider.
“Them being in the AL, you face them once every four years so it was interesting trying to pick up little tidbits of advice from other guys,” Stanton said. “[The deep fly ball to center against Sale] was just a click off. In this sport, it’s a game of inches. If you’re not right on, it’s not going to happen.”
Aside from asking him questions about his big blasts in Monday’s Home Run Derby, most of the national media was interested in talking to Stanton about his future in Miami. Signed for $6 million this season and with two years of arbitration left, there are a lot of teams interested in Stanton’s services.
How does he handle the trade rumors?
“Very simple. Don’t read rumors,” Stanton said. “Anything important is going to come through your inner circle and you’ll know it’s legit.
“When you’re in the arbitration system and don’t have a deal, there’s always going to be those [rumors]. There’s nothing I can do about it at the moment. All I can do is play and worry about it when it comes.”
Are the Marlins headed in the right direction?
“We're getting there,” Stanton said. “Injuries are hurting us now. We seem to be idle now again. But we do have a lot of injuries and that never helps. You never see the full effect of it until afterward.”
Henderson Alvarez, the Marlins’ other All-Star representative, was one of three National League pitchers who didn’t get into the game. The Marlins were told Alvarez would likely only get into the game if it went extra innings, and Alvarez certainly didn’t mind.
He’ll follow Nathan Eovaldi and make his next start Saturday after the Marlins kick off the second half of the season Friday against the visiting San Francisco Giants.
Alvarez said he enjoyed his All-Star experience, especially getting to see Stanton entertain the country with what he sees him do every day in batting practice.
“The first round of the derby he was spectacular,” Alvarez said. “The second round he got cold, but I thought he did very well. He put on a show for the fans and that’s what he and everyone wanted.
“I’ve had a good time. I hung out with a lot of friends and a lot of colleagues. It was just great to be here among the All-Stars.”