Whether or not this turns out to be his final season with the Marlins, slugger Giancarlo Stanton would like to know what it feels like to play for a winner.
“I’m competitive, so I don’t take losing well. I’m not a loser,” said Stanton before taking the field with his teammates in the first full-squad workout of spring training on Thursday. “That’s not what I’m accustomed to. That’s not what I like to do.”
But losing is the only thing Stanton has known since making his big-league debut with the Marlins in 2010. And the seasons have gotten progressively worse, with one last-place finish after another.
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The Marlins were 80-82 in 2010, Stanton’s rookie year.
After that, they went 79-90 in 2011, 69-93 in 2012 and 62-100 last season for only the second 100-loss season in Marlins history.
“Obviously it hasn’t been ideal so far,” Stanton said of his time with the Marlins. “And I don’t want a career like that. So we’ve got to push forward and start turning it around.”
If the Marlins don’t do something to convince Stanton they’re heading in a positive direction, he might not entertain any thought of remaining with the team, even if he’s offered a lucrative, long-term contract extension. He has said he wants to see some stability with a franchise that been anything but stable in recent years.
He described the roller-coaster ride of the past few years as not enjoyable.
“It’s been a circus — low, high, low,” he said.
Stanton, in his first year of salary arbitration, will make $6.5 million this season. That figure should only escalate over the coming two seasons, after which he can become eligible for free agency.
In the meantime, the Marlins have been trying to surround him with a more productive supporting cast in the lineup, signing three new infielders and a catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, over the winter in a bid to improve on the majors’ lowest-scoring team.
Stanton called them “good new additions.”
But as Stanton pointed out, what looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to wins on the field.
Case in point: the much-ballyhooed 2012 team that was managed by Ozzie Guillen and included several high-priced players, including Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
That team turned out to be a major bust and was gutted afterward.
“You can’t just get a bunch of big names that aren’t going to win together on the field,” Stanton said. “Baseball is that one sport where you can’t bring a bunch of guys in and expect it to click right away. So there’s the chemistry, and that translates on how you play on the field.”
In other words, only time will tell if the new Marlins are also improved.
“You don’t really get to know someone until you see them play,” Stanton said.
On a personal level, Stanton said he would like to remain healthy for an entire season, something he’s had trouble doing, more so than see increases in his power totals, which dipped last season.
“If you’re there [healthy] the whole season, then you don’t have to worry about home runs and average,” Stanton said. “If you’re there every day of the season, it’s going to pan out for itself.”
Manager Mike Redmond said he understands Stanton’s frustration over the lack of winning.
“None of us likes to lose,” Redmond said. “I played on a lot of losing teams, too, before we won. ... I know, last year, nobody enjoyed that.
“I know Giancarlo wants to win. And I know that’s No. 1 in his mind.”