MIAMI (AP) Giancarlo Stanton still needs to have five teeth fixed or replaced, along with a procedure to assess how much blood remains in his sinus cavity and will be understandably leery the next time he grabs a bat.
He also knows things could be a whole lot worse.
The Miami slugger spoke out for the first time Thursday night about the injury that ended his season, doing so while still sporting a pair of slightly blackened eyes and with a wound evident over the left side of his mouth. Stanton rejoined his club exactly one week after taking a fastball from Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers in the face, speaking in the clubhouse before the Marlins played Washington.
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”I feel all right,” Stanton said. ”Swelling’s way down, much better than I envisioned. Just got to get the grill fixed and we’ll go from there.”
Stanton sounded very much like himself, though he’s still a bit uncomfortable about putting the extent of his dental damage on display. The 24-year-old outfielder met with reporters, but no photos or videos were permitted.
He has seen replays of the play that ended his season.
”Quickly,” Stanton said. ”I haven’t seen the slo-mo, but when it’s been on TV I’m able to watch it. It hasn’t been too bad, but I think if I saw a slo-mo, I really wouldn’t want to see that.”
Stanton said he remembers Fiers’ arm action on the pitch, and thinks his eyes found the ball about midway through its journey to the plate. The pitch came in and caught the NL MVP candidate in the face, and Stanton said he briefly blacked out.
”My ears were ringing,” Stanton said. ”I couldn’t hear nothing, except the ring. I was checking my mouth, just the blood, mouth full and having chunks of teeth floating around.”
Stanton hoped to play all 162 games this season, and even envisioned a return later this year after the injury. The Marlins ruled him officially out for 2014 earlier this week.
When he returns, Stanton said he will wear additional protection on his helmet. He doesn’t expect to have any mental blocks about playing again.
”I think when we decide the protection, I’ll have more reassurance,” Stanton said.
Stanton led the NL with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs when he got hurt, plus had drawn more intentional walks than any other two NL players combined – all part of the reason why his teammates have insisted for weeks that he should be the league’s MVP.
”That’s not up to me,” Stanton said. ”That’s the voters. There’s nothing I can do.”
Stanton has heard from plenty of people who have endured similar injuries, including Atlanta’s Jason Heyward. Stanton’s orbital bone was broken by the pitch from Fiers – but not shattered, which is a critical distinction. Stanton said his vision is normal and that he anticipates no reason why he won’t be able to begin his usual offseason program in December.
Still, the force of the hit was massive. Stanton’s face was struck on the left, but blood was found in the sinuses on the right side of his head – with an additional CT scan still looming to assess that situation, which is currently preventing him from flying commercially. The Marlins brought him back to Miami on a private jet.
Stanton isn’t sure how many stitches were needed to close the wounds, either.
”I was really fortunate,” Stanton said. ”I could have my mouth wired shut now, I could have a plate in my face, I could have a lot of things. I’ll take a few missing teeth over all that. My face didn’t do exactly what it was supposed to do by taking that force, but it helped me out.”