Some Yankees fans began to run out of patience with Giancarlo Stanton practically right off the bat, dousing him in boos after he struck out for the fourth and fifth times in the home opener.
With the new guy on the marquee off to a slow start, that sound continued to fill the chilly April air at Yankee Stadium. Aaron Boone finally made a move Thursday night, dropping Stanton from third to fourth for the first time.
But this move, according to the manager, was based on the matchups against the Blue Jays. Boone isn’t planning on a steep descent for Stanton on the lineup card.
“It’s more our personnel versus their pitching and their bullpen and that kind of thing that factors into it,” Boone said before the game. “I’m not ready to move him down in the order.”
Stanton proceeded to snap a streak of 15 straight hitless at-bats with a fifth-inning infield single. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter in the Yankees’ 4-3 win, which made them 9-8.
That left Stanton with nine hits in his last 49 at-bats. His average rose from .197 to .203, with three homers and 10 RBIs. His average at home rose from .086 to .105 — 4-for-38 — in nine games.
So what’s the best place for him in the lineup?
Boone knows what’s not the best place at the moment — anywhere below fifth.
“I still want him surrounded by impact guys,” he said. “You move him down and all of a sudden he’s one good at-bat maybe from getting locked back in and then all of a sudden you’re in a situation where it’s a blatant pitch- around and those kind of things.
“I think he’s too close to hopefully finding that feeling to where he can lock in, so I have no intentions of moving him down any further. Whether it’s fifth or third or fourth, those are always flexible. But I don’t plan on moving him to the bottom half of the lineup.”
Stanton, who’s coming off a 59-homer, 132-RBI season with the Miami Marlins that earned him National League MVP honors in 2017, wasn’t available for comment after the game.
Boone, though, was encouraged by Stanton’s plate appearances in his cleanup debut. Stanton worked the count full three times, including in the first, when he just got under a pitch on a fly to left.
“I thought he was on pitches a lot more, laying off pitches just out of the zone,” Boone said. “ . . . I thought it was a good positive step for him.”
But it certainly hasn’t been easy for Stanton, coming to this big stage as a big name and facing high expectations from demanding fans.
“There’s been a million guys who have been through it,” said CC Sabathia, who started Thursday night. “It’s just part of the game. Keep going out, playing every day, playing hard, and he’ll come out of it.
“Obviously, he’s a great player. He’s always put up good numbers. So I’m not worried about him at all.”