May is becoming a month to forget for Giancarlo Stanton. Just when the Marlins’ $325 million slugger was showing small signs of snapping out of a prolonged hitting slump, he was taken out of the lineup with an injury.
Stanton didn’t start Wednesday because of what manager Don Mattingly said was “a little soreness” on the right side of his torso. The extent of the injury has yet to be fully determined, but Mattingly doesn’t believe it to be serious.
“At this point, I’m not really concerned,” Mattingly said. “But I guess maybe I would be if it would end up being something that would linger.”
Mattingly said he noticed Stanton “tugging on it, rubbing on it” early in Tuesday’s game in Miami. Stanton played the full game, homered and threw out a runner at third from right field in the ninth inning.
It’s not the first time Stanton has dealt with side soreness.
Mattingly said Stanton dealt with it some during spring training and missed a game or two as a result. Tuesday was the first time Mattingly said he noticed it during the season.
“[Stanton had it] different times in the spring, the exact same spot,” Mattingly said. “So, obviously, it’s not something that’s lingered through the course of the season.”
Then again, Stanton has looked awful at the plate this month.
He went through a 4-for-50 dry spell and is hitting just .173 for the month. He is striking out at an accelerated clip. But Stanton ended an 0-for-19 dry spell on Sunday with a single and had hit safely in each of the past three games.
“Hopefully, it’s not something major, it’s a day or two,” Mattingly said of Stanton, who did not take batting practice before Wednesday’s game against the Rays.
Stanton isn’t the only ailing outfielder for the Marlins.
Christian Yelich missed his fifth consecutive game with back spasms.
But Mattingly said Yelich is showing signs of progress and hopes to have him back in the lineup when the Marlins head up to Atlanta on Friday.
With the designated hitter in place during the two-game set at Tropicana Field, Mattingly does not have to rely on his bench quite as much as he would using National League rules.
“[Wednesday] is a day you can survive,” Mattingly said. “We feel like we’re getting close to him back in the lineup.”
With Stanton and Yelich both out of the lineup, Ichiro Suzuki was in right field while Cole Gillespie was in left for what was his first start of the season.
fond trop memories
Jose Fernandez has fond memories of Tropicana Field, but not because of his pitching outings there.
It was the first place Fernandez saw a big-league game.
“It’s the first ballpark I ever went to when I got to America, so it’s a special place,” said Fernandez, who arrived in Tampa after defecting from Cuba in 2007 and attended Braulio Alonso High.
“It was the Rays against the Angels,” Fernandez recalled. “I remember coming to the game and when I walked in, I was in shock. I had never seen a stadium like this.”
Fernandez said he sat behind the third-base dugout with some of his high school friends. During the game, cameras showed them on the ballpark scoreboard.
“I was laughing and waving and stuff,” Fernandez said. “It was a very cool experience.”
Fernandez’s pitching experiences at Tropicana haven’t been so cool. He’s gone 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in his two starts there. He’ll take the mound Thursday bidding for his first win at Tropicana.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Fernandez (6-2, 3.02 ERA) at Tampa Bay Rays LHP Drew Smyly (2-5, 3.54), 1:10 p.m., Tropicana Field.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (3-3, 4.15) at Atlanta Braves (TBA), 7:35 p.m., Turner Field.