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Latest injury frustrating for Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Yankees celebrates a

Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Yankees celebrates a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Nationals Park on July 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images/Patrick Smith

At least publicly, Giancarlo Stanton’s immediate prognosis was no clearer late Monday afternoon as the results of the MRI he underwent on his left hamstring had not yet been revealed.

Regardless, the result is the same: another injury that will keep him sidelined for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time.

As Aaron Boone put it on Sunday regarding the decision to put Stanton on the injured list before putting him in the MRI tube, “We felt like it was at least going to be something that's going to keep him out for at least the next week or so.”

And add to Stanton’s frustration when it comes to his body.

Limited to 18 games last season because of a variety of injuries, Stanton made a specific effort during the offseason to work on his physique. Believing that he might have become more bulked up than necessary in recent years, Stanton, 30, shed about 20 pounds and arrived for camp in February in the range of 225 pounds, similar to what he weighed early in his career.

“I had a lot of time to think over last year,” Stanton said shortly after the start of this 60-game regular season. “I just wanted to cover all my bases. I tried to figure out what was the best way for me to stay on the field. What's the best way for me to progress? I thought I'd give this a try and be closer to the weight of my younger years.”

But less than two weeks into camp, Stanton suffered a Grade 1 right calf strain — which would have kept him off the field on the originally scheduled March 26 Opening Day — then was greeted with this setback two weeks into the rebooted season.

Even more frustrating?

He was off to a good start at the plate, hitting .293 with three homers and a 1.038 OPS in his first 14 games.

“I’m hurting for him,” Boone said. “I know what he's done to be here. His play speaks for itself. Hopefully it's something that doesn't end up keeping him down too long.”  

Stanton typically keeps his thoughts — good or bad — to himself, but he made an exception in front of a small group of reporters during the first spring training shortly after an MRI revealed the calf strain.

As he discussed that injury — and all that went on in 2019, which included a left biceps strain, left calf tightness and a right knee sprain — Stanton could not hide his exasperation.

“I mean it [the injuries] makes it seem like I didn’t take care of myself, you know? Which makes it more frustrating,” he said.

And for all the durability questions that have surrounded Stanton the last two years, they’re not entirely fair. After all, from 2011-18 — the first seven of those spent with the Marlins — he averaged 130 games per season. Stanton played in 158 games in 2018, his first year with the Yankees, hitting 38 homers and driving in 100 runs. The season before that, his last with the Marlins, Stanton won NL MVP honors after hitting 59 homers and driving in 132 runs in 159 games.

There’s no telling how many games Stanton will play this season. As Aaron Judge said over the weekend, though, the clubhouse perspective is similar to what is was last season when Stanton — as well as Judge and an endless list of others — landed on the injured list.

“It's tough,” Judge said of Stanton’s absence. “It's a guy that's starting out with MVP numbers, driving the ball, coming up [big] in big situations for us. It's going to be a tough loss however long he's out. But now our motto, just like last year, is ‘next man up.’ Stanton is going to be missed, but I know a lot of guys that are waiting for the opportunity.”

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