TORONTO — Only three Yankees merited their own news conference before Wednesday’s workout at Rogers Centre.
One was the manager, Aaron Boone, which is standard operating procedure. Another was the Opening Day starter, Luis Severino. Also typical.
The third, however, was Giancarlo Stanton, who stepped into a media maelstrom as soon as he put on a Yankees uniform for the first time. Some figured that to be Stanton’s toughest challenge in transferring from South Beach to the Bronx, and after more than six weeks under that spotlight, he handled every aspect of the spring-training regimen just fine.
That had to be harder than it looked. New teammates, new manager, new everything. Even a new position — leftfield — and a new role, as Stanton should end up with the majority of his at-bats as the Yankees’ DH, where he will start, batting third, for Thursday’s opener against the Blue Jays.
By the way, Stanton has played three career games at Rogers Centre, and hit three home runs there in a total of 12 plate appearances. Seems like adapting to new surroundings won’t be a problem for Stanton, despite a bumpy introduction to leftfield in the Grapefruit League. Coming off an NL MVP season, which included 59 homers and 132 RBIs, Stanton doesn’t spend much time sweating the challenges ahead.
“You don’t worry about the negativity,” Stanton said Wednesday. “You don’t worry about what if I do this, what if this guy throws me this, what if I have a bad series here. You’ve got to have a positive mindset and to know, it doesn’t matter what [the pitcher] is doing. If I’ve done my homework, if I have the right preparation, it should speak for itself.”
The only reason Stanton is on the Yankees right now is because of a steely determination that refused to allow the Marlins — specifically GM Michael Hill and new CEO Derek Jeter — to trade him where he didn’t want to go. By invoking his no-trade clause, Stanton eventually was able to steer his way to the Bronx, and onto a roster that many believe could win the World Series this year. At age 28, and with Stanton now tied to the Yankees through 2027, this is shaping up to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
“My biggest concern was him getting comfortable early on and I think he did that,” Boone said Wednesday. “He gets after it. He knows where he is in his career and knows the opportunity in front of him with this team.”
Sharing a clubhouse with the 6-7 Aaron Judge, Stanton probably is on the only team where it’s possible for him to be standing in somebody’s shadow. But as the new bat in town, Stanton faced nearly equal attention this spring, and his performance in pinstripes will be scrutinized just as closely as Judge’s sophomore season.
Fortunately for Stanton, he won’t need to put the Yankees on his broad shoulders, as he did during the waning months of his frustrating Marlins’ tenure. When Boone tells this group to “embrace the expectations,” Stanton hears another reason to be confident, boosted by the stacked roster around him.
“It’s knowing what we can do,” Stanton said. “Knowing how good we are, and how us together is much stronger than being an individual. Just not to look ahead. Not already looking to, hey, the season’s starting but we’re making the playoffs. You’ve still got to put the work in every day to get there. Obviously that’s the goal.”