Yankees slugger Stanton says he’ll enjoy Miami homecoming
MIAMI (AP) — The Yankees slugger choked up.
He saluted the crowd, waved and patted his chest as he looked to the stands. He then singled sharply to left field.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Stanton said. “A lot of things go into this — where I’m at now. I grew up over there.”
Over there is the Marlins clubhouse, where Stanton spent his first eight major league seasons before being traded last November. That made the Yankees’ two-game series in Miami his homecoming.
Stanton went 2 for 6, missing his 300th career home run by a few feet when he doubled in the fifth, and the Yankees won 2-1 in 12 innings.
Before the game, he sat in the visitors’ dugout before batting practice, which gave him a different angle of Marlins Park’s kitschy, colossal home sculpture.
“I still don’t like it,” he said with a laugh. “But it won’t be going off if I hit one.”
Stanton activated the moveable sculpture more than any other player before leaving the Marlins. Speaking of himself in the plural, he said it was weird but good to be back, and said he harbored no hard feelings about the way his time with the Marlins ended after eight seasons.
“We know what the situation is over there now, and how it was,” he said. “We understand.”
The situation is that former Yankees shortstop and new Marlins CEO Derek Jeter rebooted the woebegone Miami franchise, trading away several big contracts for prospects with the goal of becoming competitive in a few years. Stanton, coming off a 59-homer MVP season, wanted no part of a rebuilding project and approved a trade to the Yanks.
Now he’s likely to make the playoffs for the first time, while the Marlins are headed for a ninth consecutive losing season.
“I hope they’ll figure it out,” Stanton said. “I hope they get it turned around. It will take a couple of years. But if the pieces are put together right, I think they’ll turn it around.”
Jeter didn’t talk with the media before the series opener. But Marlins manager Don Mattingly acknowledged it has been different without Stanton — and without Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon, who were also traded.
“You miss all those guys,” Mattingly said. “Some good players went out the door as we embarked on building this thing to the level we wanted and trying to build some continuity and sustainability. You knew you were going to miss all those guys.”
Stanton began the week batting .285 with 32 homers and 80 RBIs — stats comparable to his time in Miami.
He reminisced about hitting at Marlins Park when it was still a construction site before opening in 2012. He said he’ll do no sightseeing during his brief stay in Miami, but will spend time with former teammates and friends.
He has many in Miami, as the ovation in the first inning showed.
“That was really cool — definitely more than I could ask for,” Stanton said. “That’s going to be one of the more special moments of my career.”