MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Perhaps the biggest superstar to ever play for the Miami Marlins has returned to South Florida.
Giancarlo Stanton sat in the visitors’ dugout before batting practice Tuesday, 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, which made Tuesday a homecoming for the New York Yankees slugger as they began a two-game series in Miami.
Stanton received a warm ovation from the crowd when he stepped to the plate in the first inning. He saluted, waved and patted his chest as he looked to the stands. He then singled sharply to left field.
Beforehand he was in a genial mood facing a media scrum of three dozen. 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 friends and former teammates — and at the beach.
If he homers, it will No. 300 of his career. He noted that he hit Nos. 100 and 200 for the Marlins.
“So it would be really cool to do it in this park,” he said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)