Giancarlo Stanton stood alongside Yankee teammates Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez on Monday night after they were presented with their 2017 Silver Slugger trophies.
Then Stanton got ready to play against the team with which he earned that hardware.
The Marlins look drastically different than they did before Stanton departed Miami in a December trade that brought him to the Bronx and continued his former organization’s reshaping under new ownership spearheaded by Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
Stanton, who exchanged pleasantries with several of his former teammates and coaches prior to Monday’s game, told the New York media over the weekend that he harbors no hard feelings toward Jeter over the way things played out in the offseason.
“I don’t think there is any crazy bad blood besides what you guys stirred up,” Stanton told reporters over the weekend during the Yankees’ series in Detroit, referring to the reports that the Marlins threatened to keep him during their rebuilding process if he didn’t accept proposed trades to the Giants or Cardinals.
Stanton used his no-trade clause to refuse both of those proposed trades before accepting the Marlins’ eventual deal with the Yankees that brought All-Star second baseman Starlin Castro to Miami along with prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers. As part of the deal, the Yankees reportedly took on $265 million of the remaining $295 million owed to Stanton over the final 10 years of his current contract.
“We were very honest with each other in our meetings,” Stanton said. “That’s the business side of it, but there is no bad blood on this side.”
Jeter reportedly was going to be in New York this week, but said last week that he did not plan on attending either of the Marlins’ two games against the Yankees, feeling it would “too awkward” at this time.
Stanton, who became the first Marlins’ league MVP last season after a memorable 59 home-run season was one of several standout players traded primarily for prospects in the offseason including Christian Yelich (Brewers), Dee Gordon (Mariners) and Marcell Ozuna (Cardinals).
The Marlins entered Monday’s game with a 4-11 record — the fourth-worst in the majors and having hit a National League-low eight home runs with four coming off the bat of 2017 Home Run Derby participant Justin Bour.
“It’s a little different seeing him on the other side, but you move forward and you know what you had to do as an organization,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You remember when you had him and you love your guys when you had them. You hope you had some type of impact on them, but when they move forward you’re just trying to get them out.”
Despite hitting two homers in his first game in Yankee pinstripes, a couple of five-strikeout games and a 7-for-42 hitting start stirred up plenty of venom directed at Stanton from the local fan base.
Stanton, who dealt with prolonged slumps at times while with the Marlins, may be showing signs of finding a groove at the plate, hitting 6 for his past 17 with a double and a triple.
“Not really [surprised], it’s New York,” Mattingly said. “You struggle, you pay. That’s all there is to it. It’s a ‘day in, day out’ place. It doesn’t matter what you did last year. I’m not surprised by it. But also in the same sense I know it changes once he gets his feel and stuff like that."
Mattingly, a former American League MVP and a .307 hitter for the Yankees over his 14-year career, said dealing with slumps in New York was tough no matter how intense the crowd or media criticism became.
“You just have to hold yourself accountable,” Mattingly said. “No one ever had to tell me if I was struggling. I knew when I was struggling and I was always more disappointed. People would say to me, ‘Well what about Mr. [George] Steinbrenner, do you think he’s going to get on you?’ If he was going to get on me because I’m not playing well, trust me, I’m feeling worse than he is.
“You want to hold yourself to a standard that’s way up there and when you’re not playing to that, you’re disappointed. So I was disappointed the same way the fans would be or Mr. Steinbrenner would be disappointed."
Mattingly thinks Stanton will learn to deal with the rough patches over time as the positive results begin to materialize.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys come to New York from different organizations," Mattingly said. "It’s just a different place. It’s just not the same so you have to go out and prove yourself on the field. It’s the only thing and you don’t really have any money in the bank. You come here as a free agent you have no collateral you just have to go show it.”
Tuesday: Miami Marlins LHP Jarlin Garcia (0-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. New York Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 5.19), 6:35 p.m., Yankee Stadium.