JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - The Miami Marlins’ full squad took the practice field for the first time Thursday, and Giancarlo Stanton renewed a too-familiar ritual, greeting the numerous newcomers and trying to put names with faces.
He’s tired of it.
“I don’t want to come in and always feel like everyone needs name tags, you know?” he said.
The Marlins’ revolving-door roster has been accompanied by a lot of losing, and Stanton’s tired of that, too. The precocious slugger said the situation must change before he’ll consider a long-term offer the Marlins will likely make after this season.
Spring training begins with the Marlins hoping to end a streak of three consecutive last-place finishes in the NL East. Their loss total has increased each of the past three years, and Stanton endured it all.
At age 24, he begins his fifth major league season with the most games in a Marlins jersey of any starter - and the most defeats.
“I’m not a loser,” he said. “That’s not what I’m accustomed to. That’s not what I like to do. So this obviously hasn’t been ideal so far, and I don’t want a career like that. We’ve got to push it forward and start turning it around.”
Front office executives believe that will happen. They made a series of offseason moves to improve their feeble offense, and with a young, deep, talented pitching staff, they’ve created a foundation to build a winner, general manager Dan Jennings said.
Stanton is a frequent subject of trade speculation and can’t become a free agent until after the 2016 season. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and landed a big raise by signing a $6.5 million, one-year deal.
Locking up the right fielder with a multiyear contract is the Marlins’ goal, according to Jennings. They delivered that message to Stanton and his agent, Joel Wolfe, during the offseason.
“We had a conversation with his agent regarding our desire to do a long-term deal,” Jennings said. “We need to let Giancarlo get used to where we are right now with the new culture in the clubhouse, and let him be a part of it and focus on going out there and producing, and then we’ll see. It’s a feeling-out period. Let’s see where we’re going, and start moving this thing the right way.”
Stanton said he likes the offseason moves made by the Marlins, who upgraded his supporting cast by acquiring veterans Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal, Casey McGehee, Jeff Baker and Ty Wigginton. Given little protection in the lineup last year, he hit a career-low .249 with 24 homers, increasing his career total to 117.
Before considering a long-term deal in Miami, he wants some stability for a roster that has been ever-changing because of the team’s small payroll.
“They’ve got to show me. I don’t want to hear it, I want to see it. I’ve heard everything in the book,” Stanton said. “If I see a secure setting, and see that we’re going to push forward, we can talk. It’s not always about money. There are other things that go into it.”
A secondary issue for Stanton is the daunting dimensions of the Marlins’ 2-year-old ballpark. While he has been outspoken in arguing that the fences are too far away, he hit 15 of his 24 home runs last season at home, and his .599 slugging percentage in home games was the best in the NL.