With new name, Stan­ton poised to raise pro­file

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

JUPITER, FLA. | His mom calls him Cruz. Teammates call him Big­foot. Most base­ball fans know him as Mike Stan­ton, pre­co­cious slug­ger for the Mi­ami Mar­lins, but his first name is ac­tu­ally Gian­carlo.

“The man of a mil­lion names,” Stan­ton said.

He likes them all, but with spring train­ing crank­ing up and Stan­ton touted as a fu­ture home-run cham­pion, he said Wed­nes­day he prefers Gian­carlo.

For the first time, that’s the way he’s iden­ti­fied on the Mar­lins’ ros­ter. That’s also the name on his pay­check and above his locker. That’s what team owner Jef­frey Lo­ria calls him.

But Stan­ton’s dad calls him Mike, and many of his rel­a­tives call him Mikey.

“I respond to many names,” he said. “It’s all good.”

The Mar­lins ex­pect to see his sur­name in a lot of head­lines this year. He has 56 ca­reer home runs, and in the past 40 years only Ken Grif­fey Jr. (60) and Alex Ro­driguez (56) have hit at least that many be­fore their 22nd birth­day. Stan­ton turned 22 in Novem­ber.

“This kid has po­ten­tial that’s un­be­liev­able,” new man­ager Ozzie Guillen said.

The Mar­lins’ cleanup hit­ter and right fielder is thickly built at 6 feet 5 inches and 250 pounds — thus the nick­name Big­foot, which dates to his year at Sin­gle-a Greens­boro. In two ma­jor-league sea­sons he has de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for mam­moth homers, and his bat­ting-prac­tice ses­sions tend to draw a large au­di­ence of teammates and op­pos­ing play­ers.

Guillen said he’s not in­ter­ested in tape-mea­sure homers.

“I told Stan­ton, ‘I hear you hit balls 700 feet. Don’t give me 700 feet. Just give me 40 that barely make the wall,’ ” Guillen said.

Stan­ton said he doesn’t care how far his homers travel. Last sea­son he hit 34 while bat­ting .262 with 87 RBI.

This year he’ll play in a new ball­park for a team with a much higher pro­file — and a new name. So the tim­ing of a name change for Stan­ton makes sense.

His full name is a sonorous mouth­ful: Gian­carlo Cruz Michael Stan­ton. He’s not Ital­ian, and Gian­carlo isn’t a fam­ily name — his par­ents just liked it.

In school, the Cal­i­for­nia na­tive went by Gian­carlo un­til the fifth grade.

“No one could pro­nounce it right,” he said. “You have seven pe­ri­ods in school, so seven times a day: ‘No, that’s not the name.’ ” So he switched to Mike.

PHILLIES: First base­man Ryan Howard missed work­outs again Wed­nes­day af­ter a pro­ce­dure Mon­day to re­move an in­fec­tion around his sur­gi­cally re­paired Achilles ten­don. Howard, who had the orig­i­nal surgery in Oc­to­ber, took part in work­outs when camp opened but stopped af­ter bat­ting prac­tice Satur­day. He’s been held out of all base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties since, and he left the team Mon­day to see Dr. Mark My­er­son in Bal­ti­more.

PI­RATES: Newly ac­quired start­ing pitcher A.J. Bur­nett was struck in the face by a bat­ted ball Wed­nes­day. He will fly from the team’s spring train­ing com­plex to Pitts­burgh to have his right eye ex­am­ined by team doc­tors. Bur­nett was in­jured as he hit dur­ing a bunting drill. Af­ter the ball hit the tem­ple near his right eye, a dazed Bur­nett dropped into a crouch near home plate. Play­ers who had gath­ered to watch the drill gasped loudly, then went quiet as Bur­nett sagged to his knee.

DIAMONDBACKS: Ari­zona and catcher Miguel Mon­tero have ended talks on a mul­ti­year con­tract un­til af­ter this sea­son, when he will be a free agent. The two sides have been in talks in re­cent weeks, but gen­eral man­ager Kevin Tow­ers said no agree­ment could be reached. Both he and Mon­tero said they did not want the con­tract is­sue to be a dis­trac­tion as the Diamondbacks de­fend their NL West crown.

MI­NOR LEAGUES: Free agent pitcher Justin Dowdy has been sus­pended for 50 games un­der base­ball’s mi­nor-league drug pro­gram for re­fus­ing to take a test. The sus­pen­sion will start when the 28-year-old left-han­der, who has never ap­peared in the ma­jors in a 10-year pro­fes­sional ca­reer, signs with a big league or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.