BOSTON — Giancarlo Stanton, plenty friendly but on the quiet side, in his own way didn’t hide his excitement over being voted into this month’s All-Star Game.
It’s an honor any year — this will be his fifth appearance and first as a Yankee — but even more so this season because the game will be held in Los Angeles, Stanton’s hometown.
“It’s amazing. Thank you to the fans,” Stanton said Friday night after the Yankees’ 12-5 win over the Red Sox, making his first comments since MLB announced the starters for the game earlier that night. “It’s really cool to be able to go where I grew up and be in the All-Star Game. It’s going to be really cool.”
There is a degree of irony in Stanton getting voted in by the fans. The outfielder has been a lightning rod since the Yankees traded for him before the 2018 season. No Yankees player since then, except for maybe Gary Sanchez, has consistently heard more Yankee Stadium boos than Stanton, who has always handled the barbs with equanimity.
“We understand the type of work he puts in,” said Aaron Judge, who will join Stanton in making up two-thirds of the American League’s starting outfield at Dodger Stadium. “I think a lot of people don’t understand the type of work that gets put in to be ready for a 7 o’clock game in front of 40,000 people. To see the work a guy like him puts in, who’s been in the league 12 years, to continue to put in the work, put in the work and try to improve. For a guy that’s won an MVP, is a multiple All-Star, he’s done it all, but each year he continues to want to improve and get better. He’s a true leader in this clubhouse. He’s always picking guys up. He’s helped out a lot of the guys.
“Izzy, Joey, who have come over from different teams, from losing teams, and coming into a team where you’re expected to win every single game and the type of pressure that gets put on you, he really helped those guys out a lot too about how to handle things. Seeing someone like that put in the work and get recognized for it is big-time.”
Indeed, the way the 6-6, 245-pound Stanton goes about his business made him an instant hit in 2018 in the Yankees’ clubhouse, where over time he has slowly emerged as an important behind-the-scenes voice.
“I’m stoked about that,” Gerrit Cole said, referring to the fans voting in Stanton. “I read that this morning with Amy [Cole’s wife] and I was like, ‘This is the first time he’s done it as a Yankee.’ I was pretty proud last year [going to the All-Star Game as a Yankee]. That’s got to feel good for him.”
Cole continued: “He’s such a good person, and then from our perspective, we get to see the work. It’s hard not to root for somebody that’s so professional and puts in the work. And on top of that, he’s such a great dude, he’s such a great teammate, and all he cares about is winning. He’s a pro’s pro.”
Stanton strongly indicated Friday night that he will participate in the Home Run Derby, an event he won in 2016 in San Diego but hasn’t participated in since 2017 in Miami (he was beaten by Sanchez in the first round of a competition won by Judge). He entered Saturday hitting .237 but with 21 homers and an .833 OPS.
After being treated like fine china by the Yankees during much of his first four seasons in pinstripes, Stanton has played 33 games in the field this season, a transition that actually started after the trade deadline a year ago.
“That’s where I was from the start,” Stanton said of playing the field, something he did on a regular basis during the first eight years of his career in Miami. “It’s been an interesting past couple of years, but it’s good to be back out there and able to go to the Mid-Summer Classic [voted in as an outfielder].”
And he’ll share the starting stage with Judge.
“I’ve been waiting for it. I’m excited,” Judge said before Saturday’s game. “We’re going to have some fun out there with [Mike] Trout. We’re going to have some fun in L.A., and hopefully he does the Home Run Derby so we can see him do his thing there, too.”