Whether it’s 60 in a season or 300 for a career, Giancarlo Stanton’s home run hitting pace hasn’t changed much in the 11 months since he had last taken a swing at Marlins Park.
But life’s been a little different for Stanton playing under the bright lights of New York and for a franchise with the history of the Yankees.
That much was evident on Tuesday afternoon when a throng of local and national reporters — far more than he likely ever drew at any point during his eight years with the Marlins — huddled together to talk to Stanton in his first game back in Miami.
“It’s been an adjustment for sure,” Stanton said. “We wouldn’t have had this over there definitely, but I mean besides the outside noise, it’s still you gotta handle yourself out there and it’s still baseball at the end of the day.”
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Stanton trotted out to right field wearing the Yankees’ road gray and navy blue — a sight that still makes many longtime Marlins fans cringe.
Stanton, who holds the Marlins’ club record with 267 career home runs, has hit 32 this season for his new club.
And that powerful bat is sorely missed in a Marlins’ lineup where no one had yet to surpass 20 home runs this season entering Tuesday’s game.
Stanton, who played his 1,110th career game on Tuesday, arrived in Miami trying to become the fourth-fastest player to reach 300 home runs in major league history. Only Ralph Kiner (1,087), Ryan Howard (1,093) and Juan Gonzalez (1,096) reached it faster and Stanton has a bit of a cushion before he’d slip below Alex Rodriguez (1,117) on that list.
Stanton stepped into the batter’s box a little over 90 minutes after that for the first time in 11 months since he struck out in his final at-bat that ended his eight-year tenure with the Marlins and finished a home run short of a historic 60-home-run season.
Stanton took a moment and pointed to the crowd as he received a standing ovation. He then lined a 95.7 mph fastball from Pablo Lopez to left field at a Stanton-esque 117.3 mph for a single that drew another big roar.
Stanton would win the National League’s MVP award shortly thereafter and would subsequently be traded to the Yankees for second baseman Starlin Castro and prospects Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman, who are each playing these days for the Marlins’ High-A affiliate in Jupiter and are considered potential key pieces of the franchise’s future.
The Marlins in turn shed the bulk of his remaining $295 million owed to him on the 13-year deal he signed in 2015.
“I don’t think there are any hard feelings,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “There wasn’t any bad parts or anything like that. We miss all those guys. You talk about Dee Gordon, Marcell [Ozuna] and [Christian] Yelich, there were some good players that went out the door. As we’ve kind of embarked on building this to the level we want, we’re trying to build some consistency and continuity, and sustainability.”
On Tuesday, Stanton echoed the sentiments of his former manager.
“Absolutely,” Stanton said. “We know what the situation is over there now and how it was and we understand what they’ve been through and I’m just happy to be here.”
Stanton entered the two-game series with the Marlins hitting .285 with 32 home runs and 80 RBI. And those numbers have steadily improved after a rocky start in which he hit .230 with five home runs and 15 RBI and struck out 43 time in 113 at-bats over his first 28 games.
Stanton heard the boos often from the home crowd and dealt with the increased scrutiny that came with the territory playing in New York — something he didn’t face nearly as intensely in Miami.
“I’ve had bad starts before but it’s much more magnified and with everything that happened in my season last year, it wasn’t ideal but you know you just have to persevere and get out of it,” Stanton said. “You just have to get back to basics and focus and stay in between the lines and be well-prepared.”
Since June 1, Stanton is hitting .314 with 21 home runs and 51 RBI.
Stanton has hit eight home runs in 19 games so far in August as he has tried to shoulder some of the load for the Yankees with multiple home run threats like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius injured.
Stanton reflected on the memories of playing in Miami that he said he enjoyed despite eight seasons in which the Marlins were never able to make the playoffs or even post a winning record.
Stanton said he wished the best for the Marlins.
“I hope they figure it out,” Stanton said. “I hope it gets turned around and it’ll take a little bit, a couple of years but if the pieces are put together right I think it’ll be good.”
José Ureña dropped his appeal Tuesday of a six-game suspension handed to him last week after he hit Ronald Acuna Jr. with his first pitch in Wednesday’s game in Atlanta.
Mattingly said regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the team’s plan was for Ureña to not pitch again until the Marlins faced the Red Sox in Boston on Aug. 28.
“I know there has been talk, and I think it’s coming to a head with what is going to happen,” Mattingly said. “That’s where it is right now.”
Mattingly said he doesn’t want Ureña to face Atlanta regardless of the outcome of his appeal.
“There’s no reason to open that back up,” Mattingly said. “Who knows what happens? If social media goes crazy, and the public goes crazy, announcers go crazy, and then it just gets out of hand. We don’t need that. There’s no reason to open that back up.”
Wednesday: Miami Marlins RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 4.28 ERA) vs. New York Yankees RHP Lance Lynn (8-8, 4.68), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
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