The slugger was chased by injuries as a Yankee But after a great playoff series and some changes in his workouts, he expects a great year
As his Yankees teammates watched Giancarlo Stanton throw ball after ball out of the batter’s box, day after day during spring practice, it often felt like October again. Stanton was then happy and healthy, crushing home run after home run while carrying the Yankees to an American League Championship Series victory.
“My God, I mean the home runs he was hitting weren’t just home runs but light home runs,” Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said, adding: “The only problem is that I hit behind him and when he hits those balls so far I’m like, ‘Okay I have to do the same’ And I ended up hitting “
Stanton hasn’t always looked or felt this great since the Miami Marlins dumped him with his huge contract over the Yankees after his award-winning 2017 season Due to repeated injuries, Stanton, one of baseball’s strongest and strongest players, has played in about half of his team’s games since moving to New York. And when he was in the lineup in the previous playoffs, he didn’t contribute much either
That changed last season, as did his leadership role within the squad on important social issues And now, fresh out of that big October, he’s looking for an even bigger year
“He looks great,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said after watching Stanton one day this spring, “It looks like he hasn’t really skipped a beat from what I remember him in October. last “
The Yankees – a favorite to contend for the World Series title, a crown that has eluded them since 2009 – have plenty of stars.There is pitcher Gerrit Cole, the ace who starts opening day Thursday against the Yankees. Toronto Blue Jays There’s DJ LeMahieu, top Yankees all-around player and American League batting champion last season And there’s outfielder Aaron Judge, closest Aroldis Chapman, shortstop Gleyber Torres and others.
“Our success is that some of our big boys are really happy,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said recently.
There are a few taller boys in baseball than Stanton, 31, a designated hitter weighing 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, and the only current Yankees player with a Most Valuable Player award on his resume In the past, Stanton’s size has played against him at times.Since he scored 38 homers and 100 points in 158 games of his first regular season with the Yankees, in 2018, Stanton has only played 41 regular season games. His list of physical ailments since has been long: a bicep strain, a bald shoulder, two calf strains, a sprained knee, a tight quadriceps and a pulled hamstring
“It hasn’t been fun,” Stanton said recently. He knows people inside baseball and questions its durability, just as he knows the only way to get rid of that tag is to to play “You have to be on the ground,” he said, “if you don’t want questions”
So after an injury-marred 2019 season, Stanton said he lost around 20 pounds – an attempt to put the weight back on his healthier, more productive years. But that didn’t do the trick: Stanton was limited, again, appearing in just 23 of the Yankees’ 60 games in the truncated 2020 regular season
He changed his training schedule significantly this winter and lifted weights less often, Yankees director of player health and performance Eric Cressey told Yankees TV station. The result, Stanton said, has been improved agility and, he hopes, better chances to stay on the pitch.
Stanton’s father Mike has said injuries have been the weak spots in his son’s career, which has included four All-Star caps and 312 career homers “He wants nothing more than to be there to contribute,” said Mike Stanton in a telephone interview this week.
Even on the casualty list last year, Stanton made a valuable contribution As the social unrest devouring the nation gripped Major League Baseball clubs, Stanton, one of the quietest players in the Yankees , was prominent in several team meetings on the subject, said teammates and team managers
He shared stories about his experience as a biracial man in America, talked about his childhood in Los Angeles just blocks from where Rodney King was beaten by police in 1991, and clearly expressed his thoughts on what needed to change In a sport with relatively few black American players, Stanton was also one of the few people who regularly kneeled during the national anthem.
“It was cool for him to express himself because there are people in this room who have never experienced anything like the others,” said Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier, who is white. p>
“And when he was speaking and talking about things that he had been through, and others were talking about it, it really touches your heart And it made you realize how these guys -there compartmentalizes some of the things that have happened in their daily lives compared to what is happening on the ground”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a phone interview that Stanton’s physical strength had always been evident But as protests and difficult race talks swept across the country, Cashman added , Stanton “rose to the challenge, and this inner strength manifested itself from day one”
Stanton, whose maternal grandparents were African-American and Puerto Rican, said what he saw in the country last year reminded him of what his grandmother and mother told him While speaking, Stanton said he just wanted people around him to learn more about the issues.
He said he cared little if his words and actions led others to call him a team leader or not, and this winter he made it clear that he plans to stay Yankee in passing up the opportunity to exercise the exclusion clause in his contract, which has seven years and a remaining guarantee of $ 218 million
Given his injury history, it would be difficult for Stanton to exceed that guaranteed money as a free agent, and he has stressed that he wants to win a World Series with the Yankees. Stanton now hopes that, at least for the next eight months, his body will cooperate
Boone predicted “a huge season” for Stanton if the Yankees can help him stay on the court A reason for his optimism: Boone argued that Stanton was a better hitter now than he was in his MVP season, in 2017, when he smashed 59 circuits and completed 132 races
Stanton agreed, citing his improved approach to marble (his walk rate was on the rise over the past two seasons) He said he had done eye training over the years last October, he tied a Yankees record with six home runs in a single playoff
“When he’s healthy he’s one of the best players in the game,” Cashman said “It’s never been disputed What if anyone wondered if he could be the same guy a healthy playoff player, he also showed it last year”
The key for Stanton will be showing it in a marathon baseball season There are clues that will be possible During a recent batting practice in Florida, Stanton and Judge were back to hit some balls through- over the fence As he left the cage, Frazier walked over to Stanton and asked him, “Don’t you feel like you should be on larger ground than what you are on right now?”
New York Yankees, opening day
Ebene News – United States – Watch out for pitchers: Giancarlo Stanton feels strong