Yan­kees 12, Mar­lins 1

Mi­ami man­ages only 5 hits in Yan­kee Sta­dium loss.

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Craig Davis Staff writer

NEW YORK — Don Mat­tingly has seen plenty of play­ers come into New York and feel the heat of high ex­pec­ta­tions that has de­scended on Gian­carlo Stan­ton as the for­mer Mar­lins slug­ger strug­gles to find foot­ing in pin­stripes.

Stan­ton was booed in the home opener in the Bronx when he struck out five times and has been the tar­get of crit­i­cism while post­ing ca­reer-low pro­duc­tion for a first month of the sea­son.

“It’s New York. You strug­gle, you pay,” said Mat­tingly, the Mar­lins man­ager who played his 14-year ca­reer for the Yan­kees and coached for them. “That’s all there is to it. It’s a day-in, day-out place. It don’t mat­ter what you did last year.

“You come here as a free agent [or in trade], you have no col­lat­eral. So you’ve got to go show it. You’ve got to go out and prove your­self on the field.”

Com­ing into Mon­day’s first reg­u­lar-sea­son en­counter with his for­mer team on a chilly night at Yan­kee Sta­dium, Stan­ton was bat­ting .220 with three home runs, two of them com­ing on Open­ing Day in Toronto. He had struck out 25 times in 59 at-bats.

He had been floun­der­ing at .167 be­fore a 6-for-17 surge on the just-con­cluded road trip, in­clud­ing a rare triple.

Iron­i­cally, prior to Mon­day’s game Stan­ton was pre­sented with the Sil­ver Slug­ger Award he earned last year with the Mar­lins when he belted 59 homers and drove in 132 runs.

Stan­ton of­fered no in­sight into his tran­si­tion from the big-league hin­ter­land to the most de­mand­ing and un­for­giv­ing stage. He elected not to ad­dress South Florida me­dia mem­bers Mon­day, in­clud­ing the Fox

Sports Florida TV crew.

Dur­ing a me­dia ses­sion the day be­fore in Detroit, Stan­ton said that fac­ing the Mar­lins would be “just like any other game.”

He went on to say, “It’s cool to have a lot of guys I am fa­mil­iar with. I think it will be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent when I go to Mi­ami,” re­fer­ring to the Yan­kees’ visit to Mar­lins Park, Aug. 21-22.

Also in Detroit, he ad­dressed the events that led to the trade to New York, and said he had no an­i­mos­ity to­ward Mar­lins CEO Derek Jeter, who chose not to at­tend this se­ries to avoid “the awk­ward sit­u­a­tion” he might en­counter in re­turn­ing to Yan­kee Sta­dium.

“I mean, I don’t think there’s any crazy bad blood besides what [the me­dia] stirred up,” Stan­ton said. “I mean, we were very hon­est with each other in our meet­ings and that’s the busi­ness side of it, but there’s no bad blood on this side.”

Stan­ton ap­peared up­beat prior to Mon­day’s game as he re­newed ac­quain­tances with for­mer team­mates who re­main with the Mar­lins, in­clud­ing a lengthy chat with Justin Bour, the first base­man who also got off to a slow start be­fore hit­ting four homers in the past week.

He ac­knowl­edged miss­ing the Mi­ami weather, as would be ex­pected on a night the tem­per­a­ture was fore­cast to drop into the 40s.

“Yeah, that would be nice,” Stan­ton said as he ap­plied tape to a bat han­dle.

The heat of New York is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Stan­ton has never faced the scru­tiny he’s under now, play­ing in front of fans and me­dia that not only de­mand ex­cel­lent in ev­ery sin­gle at-bat but come unglued by ev­ery stretch of fail­ure.

“I’m not sur­prised by it,” Mat­tingly said of the boos di­rected at Stan­ton, “but in the same sense I know it changes once he gets his feel.”

Mat­tingly, like ev­ery­one who watched Stan­ton dur­ing the past eight years with the Mar­lins, has seen sim­i­lar stretches when it looked like his bat was lath­ered in base­ball re­pel­lent.

There was May 2016, the worst month of his ca­reer when he bat­ted .173 with four homers and seven RBI while strik­ing out 31 times, or 35 per­cent of his at-bats that month.

But that July he hit .305 with seven homers while the strike­outs dropped to 27.6 per­cent.

Stan­ton has al­ways been streaky like that. Con­sid­er­ing it was just last Au­gust that he had the most re­mark­able month of his ca­reer, wal­lop­ing 18 homers, it would be ridicu­lous to sug­gest he’s lost it at 28.

Nonethe­less, the head­lines have been alarmist, if not down­right com­i­cal. In the lat­ter cat­e­gory: “Gian­carlo Stan­ton’s Start With Yan­kees is Com­i­cally Dis­as­trous”

Even the New York Times got into the act of try­ing to ex­plain Stan­ton’s funk and came up with: “Gian­carlo Stan­ton Both­ered by Pres­sure? No. Fur­ni­ture? Maybe”

The premise was that Stan­ton was distracted dur­ing the first home­s­tand by the de­mands of mov­ing into the apart­ment he is shar­ing with buddy A.J. Ramos, the for­mer Mar­lins closer now with the Mets. There was con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the de­liv­ery of fur­ni­ture and other de­tails to at­tend to.

Sim­ple as it sounds, that may have some­thing to do with his slow start. He sim­ply hasn’t had a chance to set­tle into new sur­round­ings be­fore be­ing thrust into the NYC fish­bowl.

Asked if the pres­sure of New York could be get­ting to Stan­ton, Mat­tingly said, “I think that’s the one thing you re­ally don’t know. Here, it’s just a dif­fer­ent place.”

ADAM GLANZMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Gian­carlo Stan­ton was hit­ting just .167 be­fore hav­ing a good se­ries against the Red Sox in Bos­ton last week.

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