March 1, 2023 | 8:28 p.m
TAMPA — In Giancarlo Stanton’s first, healthy Yankee year, he hit 38 home runs, knocked in 100 runs and posted an .852 OPS. He earned MVP votes for that 2018 campaign.
Check out those amazing, if human, starting points for this season.
If Stanton stays healthy, the Yankees expect him to make the most of his first year in the Bronx.
“He’s a better shooter than that. [2018 season]” manager Aaron Boone said after Stanton’s bat got off to a loud start in his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday. “If Giancarlo goes out there and is healthy, he’ll play 130, 140 games.
“I think there’s still a big season.”
of Health, as always, is the star. In the year Stanton played in just 19 games in 2019 due to various injuries, the most significant being a PCL strain in his right knee.
Foot injuries have essentially halved the shortened 2020 season. He has stayed healthy while averaging 124 ¹/₂ games played, but has finished the last two seasons.
Stanton was excellent through the first three months of last season, earning his fifth All-Star Game nod and hitting 19 home runs in his first 63 games, with an .885 OPS through late June.
But injuries began to hit in July, when ankle and foot problems hampered him for the rest of the season.
“The numbers are down because he was working through something at the end,” Boone said of Stanton, who has a career-worst .759 OPS. But he’s more beautiful and understands who he is… hitting the last couple of years.
Boone believes the 33-year-old Stanton still has bat speed and “tremendous power” but now has the experience and wisdom to punish pitchers more.
On Wednesday, an opposing pitcher was penalized heavily.
The first ball Stanton swung at during the exhibition was a fastball from Washington’s Corey Abbott, a 112.4-mph fastball that deflected backward into Abbott’s calf.
“Spring, it seems like I’m hitting the pitcher all the time,” said Abbott, a slightly smiling Stanton — who will be fine — after he recovered and threw out at first. “Good thing [the ball] It was low. I know I won’t feel good afterwards.”
Stanton’s second and final swing of the 4-2 win at Steinbrenner Field was a barrel-mounted missile that went over the warning track to right-center field.
Boone said Stanton was “locked in” even in the Yankees’ mock games, which continued in the first semi-real contest: Aaron Judge Bash’s brother had two swings, two hits and two walks.
“I want a fly on the wall. Stanton, whose biggest challenges are still to come this spring, wants linebackers, lay them all out here.
Stanton served as a DHI in his first start and was swinging balls in the outfield in early games.
Yankees Stanton works into the outfield “In some capacity,” Stanton said, that could include games in right field.
Umpire has been particularly willing to move from right to left in games at Yankee Stadium, which has short right field for Stanton to move to.
“I feel wholeheartedly that playing in the outfield will serve him well,” Boone said of Stanton, who played in the outfield for 38 of his 110 games last season. “Now he should be able to do it.”
Playing Stanton in the outfield, even infrequently, opens up the DH spot for another hitter who could use an outfield day.
Plus, it would be one more way for the Yankees to get Stanton’s bat into the lineup.
“He’s big and the key is to be able to stay healthy,” Boone said. If he does, he can still do great things.