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Giancarlo Stanton on home run binge: Barry Bonds has been huge for me

Giancarlo Stanton is on a home run tear that few can understand. Mark McGwire is one of them.
Giancarlo Stanton is on a home run tear that few can understand. Mark McGwire is one of them. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t hold any hope of breaking the single-season record for home runs held by Barry Bonds.

“There’s a long ways for that one,” Stanton said.

But Stanton is thankful that he continues to receive advice from Bonds, his hitting coach with the Marlins last season.

“Barry’s been huge for me,” Stanton said. “We talk all the time. He’s guided me along this year.”

Stanton had 50 homers entering play Monday, well short of Bonds’ mark of 73 set in 2001.

With 33 games remaining, though, he has his sights set on 62, which would give him one more than the Roger Maris’ long-standing record of 61 set in 1961 — before the “Steroids Era” in which Bonds and others set historic new standards.

Stanton carefully worked around the question of tainted records Monday, saying the great sluggers all enjoyed “advantages” distinct to their eras. Babe Ruth was the home run king before the color barrier was broken, for example.

And he praised Bonds, who has offered nothing but encouragement.

Stanton said Bonds tells him “you’re going to get less pitches to hit, you’ve got to be ready for them, stuff like that.”

“He likes it,” Stanton said. “He’s telling me to stay the course and make sure I’m ready to go every day.”

Has Bonds gone so far as to tell Stanton he hopes he brings his record?

“Uh, no,” Stanton said.

ICHIRO’S TAKE

Ichiro Suzuki said Stanton’s power surge has stirred childhood memories while growing up in Japan.

“When I was in elementary school when Nintendo came out, there was a baseball game,” Suzuki said through his translator. “And at first, there was only Japanese teams. But then the new edition came out with major-league teams they would only hit home runs. And that’s what we’re witnessing now, is that game. It’s like a Nintendo game [with Stanton].”

MCGWIRE IMPRESSED

There are few people on earth who know what it’s like to be Stanton, know how it feels to propel a baseball into orbit with the swing of a bat, time after time after time.

One of those fortunate few happened to be seated inside the visitor’s dugout at Marlins Park over the weekend and that person — San Diego Padres hitting coach Mark McGwire — was as impressed as anyone with Stanton’s power.

“He’s in it, man. He’s in the zone,” McGwire said after Stanton blasted three homers — including his 50th — in the Marlins’ three-game series sweep of the Padres.

What Stanton is doing from a statistical standpoint is exceptional. Only two players in MLB history have registered a higher OPS (on-base plus slugging) percentage for the month of August. One was Bonds. The other was Ruth.

“There’s only a few guys that have played this game that know what that feeling is, and I can attest to it,” said McGwire, who hit 70 home tuns in 1998 and 65 in 1999. “It’s a great feeling, really a great feeling. He’s a very intimidating figure at the plate right now, especially for the guy on the mound.”

NICOLINO TO PEN

Justin Nicolino has been removed from the starting rotation and will be in the bullpen. Manager Don Mattingly said he will give Odrisamer Despaigne another start after the right-hander turned in six solid innings Saturday.

COMING UP

▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Vance Worley (2-3, 5.70 ERA) at Washington Nationals RHP Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.93), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.

▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (6-5, 5.17) at Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 3.10), 4:05 p.m., Nationals Park.

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