TAMPA, Fla. — Giancarlo Stanton shared a hug with Don Mattingly, his former manager, in the visiting dugout before the Yankees’ 8-5 victory over the Marlins on Sunday at Steinbrenner Field.
Mattingly repeatedly called Stanton a “low-maintenance guy.” Proof is that Stanton started his seventh exhibition game in leftfield, a position he has never played in the major leagues, as part of an experiment to give manager Aaron Boone some flexibility during the season.
“I think it’d be a lot tougher for him to do it in Miami than it would have been here,” Mattingly said. “Just because of the combination of guys he has around him [now]. It’s great when you have guys that can do that, because I think you have an understanding of your whole group of guys and how does that all fit. So you know if you want to win — you’re a baseball player. It’s probably different, because of the angles and everything, but once he gets out there and gets comfortable, I think he’ll be fine out there. He’s a good defender.”
Stanton had a tough play in the fourth inning when Scott Van Slyke sent a sinking liner to his right. Stanton knocked it down with a dive as Van Slyke picked up a double. Stanton also saw an RBI double by Brian Anderson sail over his outstretched glove in the fifth.
“I’m going to be getting better all year at that,” Stanton said of playing left. “Be prepared for a lot, then you’re ready for a little.”
Aaron Judge has yet to play in left in an exhibition game, and he might not, meaning Stanton would be the one to change positions when Boone wants to start both in the outfield. Stanton said he’s willing to play “however many they need.”
Jacoby Ellsbury, who is scheduled to return from an oblique strain on Tuesday, reported with a sore throat and fever and was given antibiotics, Boone said . . . Boone wasn’t thrilled about Brett Gardner sliding headfirst to beat out a single in the first inning. “Part of me just absolutely loves it,” he said. “But I don’t need him headfirst right now into a base.” . . . A pair of top prospects — third baseman Miguel Andujar and outfielder Estevan Florial — were optioned to minor league camp. Andujar was named the Yankees’ 2017 minor league player of the year moments after it was announced that he was being sent down . . . . Luis Cessa, who hasn’t pitched in an exhibition game since March 10, said he is scheduled to start on Wednesday against Baltimore . . . Bernie Williams visited the clubhouse and had a long chat with Didi Gregorius.