Yankees manager Aaron Boone discussed the new physique of Giancarlo Stanton on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Tampa, Florida.

TAMPA, Fla. — Calling Giancarlo Stanton’s body “slimmed down” in comparison with what the 15-year veteran has looked like during most of his time in the majors is inadequate.

It’s like saying the Cross Bronx Expressway sees “a fair share” of traffic.

Stanton showed up on Monday with the rest of the Yankees' position players for report day looking like another human being altogether.

The 6-6 Stanton, who has played much of his career in the range of the 245 pounds he competed at last season, appeared to have shed at least 15 to 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, though the DH/outfielder declined to provide specifics. Several club insiders confirmed that weight loss estimate.

The dropped pounds had zero to do with the 34-year-old Stanton’s physical conditioning.

Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton plays catch with Aaron Judge in Tampa, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Since the Yankees traded for the DH/outfielder before the 2018 season, Stanton has awed his teammates not only with his ability to blast baseballs a long way but with the behind-the-scenes work and preparation that annually produced a sculpted body that put Michelangelo's David to shame.

But 2023 was a tipping point for the prideful Stanton, who suffered through the worst season of his professional career. And before departing Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium early last October after a year in which he hit .191 with 24 homers and a .695 OPS in 101 games —  and again spending too much time on the injured list — Stanton promised there would be “changes” in the offseason in his preparation for 2024.

Were there ever.

What does he hope the new physique will accomplish? “Be a baseball player again,” Stanton said. “I just needed to be more mobile. A lot of setbacks [last season] kept me not moving the way I’d like to be.”

Stanton, mostly durable during the first eight years of his career with the Marlins, has not been able to replicate that in his time with the Yankees, other than  his first season, when he appeared in 158 games.

The injury bug hit in 2019, limiting him to 18 games, and never really let up. He played only 110 games in 2022.  Last season a hamstring strain suffered early in the season cost him six weeks, and Stanton never looked right, particularly when it came to running. At times he ran the bases at no more than a fast jog, apparently trying to avoid injury.

He spoke in general terms about his offseason changes, allowing only that there was “more running than in years past.”

Stanton, who struck out 124 times in 415 plate appearances, also said “there will be some changes” in his swing, again without specifying.

“I gotta stay on the field,” he said. “I need to play, not be on the sidelines.”

That's what spurred the discussion between the club and Stanton about changing his offseason  regimen — the hope being that a more nimble and flexible Stanton won’t get injured as often.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton speak at the team...

Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton speak at the team facility in Tampa, Fla. on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

“I think he, we, everyone realized that it’s probably better, especially some of the things he’s dealt with from an injury standpoint and being north of 30 years old, to play at a lighter weight,” Aaron Boone said. “As you get older, it’s harder to carry a lot of mass, especially if you’ve had certain injuries.”

That history of soft-tissue injuries caused general manager Brian Cashman to publicly commit a hiccup in the offseason when he said of Stanton: “He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game.”

That caused Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, to criticize Cashman. Stanton, at the time, wasn’t happy either.

“He [Cashman] knows my reaction to that,” Stanton said, though he added that the two are OK after clearing the air.

Cashman, who did call Stanton a “great hitter” in his next sentence at November’s general managers' meetings after the injury prediction, said Monday he spoke with Stanton in the days after the remarks.

For Stanton, that is in the past. His eyes are on 2024 and playing as much as possible, primarily at DH but, he hopes, occasionally in the outfield, too. He also knows that with the addition of new teammates Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, playing time either in the field or at DH isn’t guaranteed.

“If you don’t produce, there’s going to be adjustments . . . to make the lineup as optimal as possible,” Stanton said. “It’s my job to do that.”

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