TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsBaseballYankees

Giancarlo Stanton believes familiarity with American League will lead to turnaround this season

Yankees leftfielder Giancarlo Stanton looks on during a

Yankees leftfielder Giancarlo Stanton looks on during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are both sluggers, but to the fans they are not yet two of a kind.  

The home-grown, affable Judge has been embraced by the Yankee Stadium crowd.  Stanton, the closely-guarded import from the Marlins, has yet to earn his pinstripes.  

Stanton faces Opening Day with something to prove. After homering twice in Toronto in the 2018 season opener, he struck out five times in his Stadium debut amid an avalanche of boos. That platinum sombrero was repeated at home a week later.

The fans let the 2017 reigning National League MVP hear it early and often during the season.  “I’m not really worried about last season anymore,’’ Stanton said Wednesday. “I’m worried about this season. That’s all I got for you on that one.’’

Asked if it is important to start well so he wins over the crowd, Stanton responded, “I mean it’s important to get on a good start for everyone's benefit, but that doesn’t always happen.  We always expect it to happen. It doesn't always happen all the time in baseball. You deal with it accordingly either way that it goes.’’

 Stanton had a good statistical year, hitting 38 home runs with 100 runs batted in but that paled when compared to his MVP year of 59 and 132. “Overall, I had a good solid learning experience here last year, I have a little more idea of what to expect,’’ he said. “It’s just the newness of everything is just an adjustment. But this is a game of adjustments and that’s what we constantly have to do to be successful over the years.’’

Stanton was humorously self-deprecating after that Stadium opener, praising a good game by Didi Gregorius while maligning his own. “That's what a cleanup hitter does. You clean up the garbage in front of you,’’ Stanton said.

Aaron Boone thinks the second year will be a turnaround for Stanton. “G is a worker,’’ the manager said. “He gets under the hood, he studies. He really studies pitchers. He does really well the more he sees somebody, more so than most guys. So I think he’s able to process information when he gains experience against a guy. Also, I think another year of being in the  American League and [the familiarity] of being in the American League East may be something that benefits him as well.’’

Stanton agreed. “It’s part of our muscle memory, it's part of my DNA,’’ he said. “I guess you learn exactly how the pitcher releases the ball, you learn their tendencies, you learn them and their individual catcher’s tendencies and how they pitch you and the lineup they bring to you. The more and more you see, the more and more they run out of ways to approach you … [the first year] It’s just the newness of everything is just an adjustment. Overall.  But this is a game of adjustments and that’s what we constantly have to do to be  successful over the years.’’

Judge missed 45 games last season with a wrist fracture, so his 27 homers and 67 RBIs was factored into his dip from 2017 when the AL rookie of the year hit 52 homers and drove in 114 runs.

Judge expects Stanton to have a big season. “Stanton coming in here, his second year, knowing what to expect,  the city, the media, how intense every single game is and how every single game matters, just is going to be a better position for him,’’ he said. “He's going to go out there and play, he knows what to expect. He took the practice test, now here comes the real test and he's prepared and he's ready to go.’’

Asked about the fans’ reaction to Stanton last season,  Judge said: “Playing here in New York, it's tough. It doesn't matter if fans are on your side or not. They just want to see you go out there and perform to win. That’s their biggest thing,  they want to see winners. G’s a winner... Getting this year under him and getting comfortable with New York, this environment. I think he’s ready to go out there and perform and show people why he won MVP in 2017 and why he's one of the best hitters in this game.

New York Sports