Giancarlo Stanton is over it. So is Mike Fiers.
In what was their first pitcher-batter confrontation since Fiers bloodied Stanton’s face with a direct-hit fastball 2 1/2 years ago, the two stood face-to-face once again on Sunday.
Uneventfully, Fiers whiffed Stanton.
Afterward, Stanton brushed aside questions about the reunion.
“I don’t care,” he said.
Said Fiers: “We’re past that, just playing baseball and doing our jobs here and trying to put that in the back of my mind. It just felt normal being out there and facing him.”
It was in September of 2014 when Fiers, then with the Brewers, hit Stanton in the face with a pitch.
Now with the Astros, Fiers didn’t come close to hitting Stanton on Sunday.
Fiers did acknowledge Sunday that he texted Stanton within a few days of the 2014 incident.
“I didn’t call him directly, but we texted here and there,” Fiers said. “We had a good conversation. He understands that in baseball things happen. But I don’t think we have any hard feelings or any hatred against one another, nothing like that.”
Stanton now wears a hard plastic helmet guard to protect his face.
EASING ICHIRO BACK
Ichiro Suzuki made his spring training debut on Sunday, going 0 for 2 with a walk, strikeout and run scored as the designated hitter.
“I’m 43 now, so it’s OK if my first game is a little bit later than in the past,” Ichiro said.
Ichiro, who has never spent time on the disabled list with an injury, missed two weeks with a bruised knee following an outfield collision.
“It definitely wasn’t fun,” he said. “But it’s one of those things that sometimes you’ve got to experience something [like an injury] to understand what it is that people go through.”
Ichiro will be eased back into a playing routine. Manager Don Mattingly said that Ichiro will get a day off on Monday before receiving his first start in the outfield on Tuesday.
With Stanton and Christian Yelich leaving to play in the World Baseball Classic, Ichiro should be receiving plenty of playing time before the regular season starts.
PITCHING NUMBERS GAME IS ‘UP IN THE AIR’
With Jeff Locke’s Opening-Day status in question, the plan to start the season with an overloaded, 13-man pitching staff is no longer a sure thing.
“It’s been up in the air,” Mattingly said.
Initially, the Marlins intended to use Locke as one of three “bridge” relievers, pitchers capable of taking over from the starters and getting the ball to the back end of the bullpen.
Dustin McGowan and Jose Urena are the others.
But Locke has been out with biceps tendinitis, putting his Opening-Day status in doubt. If he’s not ready to start the season, Mattingly said the Marlins could turn to another pitcher to fill that role or go with a more traditional 12-man staff. That would give Mattingly more flexibility with a a five-man bench.
“It depends on where we’re at at the end of camp,” Mattingly said.
Locke has begun throwing every other day to work his arm back into shape. But it could be a gradual process.
“I think they want me to be healthy first,” Locke said. “Opening Day doesn’t really matter as much as being healthy does.”
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez vs. New York Mets LHP Stephen Matz, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler at St. Louis Cardinals (TBA), 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.