TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Giancarlo Stanton is picking up where he ended the postseason last year.
Healthy and hard hitting.
The New York Yankees slugger homered in each of his first five playoff games in 2020, a stretch that brought flashbacks of his spectacular 2017 NL MVP season and hopes that several injury-impacted years were behind him.
Stanton finished with six homers and 13 RBIs in seven postseason games, including a tough five-game Division Series loss to the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays.
Stanton is 7 for 21 during spring training with two doubles and a homer that had an exit velocity of 115 mph. He also hit an 120 mph liner that was caught for an out.
“Ready to rock,” Stanton said. “The time of spring where it is, can we get things going here. You refine any last bits of swing and timing and all that to be ready to go.”
The Yankees open the regular season April 1 at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Stanton, 31, hasn’t played a full season since 2018 when he had 38 homers and 100 RBIs for the Yankees. That came one season after he led the NL with 59 homers and 132 RBIs in his final year with the Miami Marlins before being traded to the Bronx.
“I think one of the reasons we think we have a chance to be a really good team is because of some of our great players, some of our star players that obviously we’re counting on heavily,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Our success is tied to some of our big boys really thriving.”
Stanton said “eye training” is a key element to his production.
“You sometimes forget that the eyes are a muscle as well,” he said. “They can get better and they can be lazy at times depending on your rest or travel and what not. You’re going to see the ball differently night to night, different ballparks, different twilight, whatever. Having my eyes well prepared and warmed up is very important as well.”
Stanton, the starting designated hitter, is set to get limited time in the outfield this year. He is not expected to play in the outfield during the final days of spring training but will continue doing pregame defensive drills.
“As the discussions went on, I’ll be needed later in the first month or two,” Stanton said.
After appearing in just 18 games in 2019, Stanton strained his right calf during an outfield drill at spring training last year that would have delayed the start of his 2020 season.
Stanton missed several weeks with strained left hamstring after the abbreviated 2020 season started in the summer.
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