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Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton takes his cuts at Astros: 'I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs'

Newsday's Yankees beat reporter Erik Boland provides an update on Aaron Judge's shoulder injury, discusses Giancarlo Stanton's comments about the Astros scandal and looks at Gerrit Cole's bullpen session during Yankees spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Credit: Newsday / Erik Boland; Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Astros at this point probably wish someone would just throw in the towel on their behalf.

Giancarlo Stanton on Wednesday became the latest prominent major leaguer to throw haymakers at Astros players, agreeing with Aaron Judge, and others, who have said they should be stripped of the 2017 World Series title and took them to task for an apology they believed lacked sincerity.

“We know that they don’t really care to give an apology and it showed by their response and as players we know that,” Stanton said. “You know the repercussions of doing something like that and you’re only really sorry because you got caught.”

Stanton, like just about 100% of the big leaguers not associated with the Astros, all but laughed at the thought there was some gray area on just how much of an advantage sign-stealing is and the impact on a hitter if he knows what’s coming.

“I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs,” said Stanton, who hit 59 homers as the NL MVP in 2017, the primary year covered in commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the sign-stealing scandal.

Stanton also took Manfred to task for not directly punishing the players involved, echoing yet another leaguewide sentiment among players.

“I don’t think the penalties were harsh enough player-wise,” Stanton said. “I think that at the end of the day, it gives more incentive to do that [cheat] if you’re not going to punish the players who took part in it.”

Should they have their title taken away?  

“Yeah, they [MLB] did their investigation and it was [clear]-cut they cheated that year, which means it should be taken away,” Stanton said. “If you cheat in another way [PEDs] during the season you can’t even be in the playoffs. It’s pretty much the same difference.”

Stanton, expected to see a majority of his time at DH and some in leftfield this season, gave a wry smile when asked if the Astros stopped trying to illegally steal signs in 2018 (and didn’t do so last year) as contended in the Manfred report.

“I don’t think you really stop until you get caught or something like that,” he said. “So, my personal view would be no.”

Generally speaking, players in sports consider themselves part of a brotherhood, particularly in baseball, which since the 1970s has had the strongest union of all professional sports. The level of public enmity expressed in recent weeks from players is almost unprecedented.

“Yeah, my respect has changed a good bit,” Stanton said of how he views Astros players on the 2017 team. “Especially as players that have to compete every day, [to] know how hard this game is, to be able to show up like that every day [and cheat] . . . it would have been better if there was an apology or explanation on their side.”

Stanton, who came to the Bronx via trade in December 2017, indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if some form of retaliation was taken by opposing pitchers — something mentioned aplenty in other camps this spring —– against Astros hitters. This despite Manfred addressing that topic in the last week and sending a warning to each club.

“I think it’ll handle itself out, especially if they don’t have discipline from the higher-ups, then it will have to police itself,” Stanton said.

As for his health — hardly an insignificant topic considering the 30-year-old Stanton played in only 18 games last year because of an assortment of injuries — he said he enters spring training without restrictions.

“No limitations,” Stanton said. “Just be smart with the workload in getting back into it.”

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