Boone, Rowson find early signs of promise in Giancarlo Stanton’s spring outing

Giancarlo Stanton at Yankees 2024 spring training game.

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Awakening signs of his vintage excellence flashed during Giancarlo Stanton‘s second-inning plate appearance on Thursday night. Patiently battling through a tough six-pitch battle displayed the slugger’s trademark vision culminating with a blistering base hit.

But even more eye-opening was his explosive effort after connecting. He passionately sped out of the box, aggressively racing down the line like his glory days depended on beating the throw.

“I thought he looked good that whole at-bat,” said manager Aaron Boone after the Yankees-Marlins game ended in a scoreless tie. “He got himself into a good count. At 2-0, he fouled the changeup off. I thought he put a pretty good swing on it and just missed it a little bit. And then real flat through the zone 3-2.”

For years, injuries robbed Giancarlo Stanton of that trademark hustle, too often replaced by slow, uninspired jogs. Yet now rediscovered intensity rekindled his former spirit. With grit reborn through off-season adjustments to his physique and batting technique, Giancarlo Stanton seems to have revived his fitness and rekindled the hopes of his manager.

Yankees manager pins hopes on Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo share a lighter moment at Yankees 2024 spring training.
NYY

While his on-field production will measure Giancarlo Stanton’s ultimate performance, manager Aaron Boone viewed his early defensive involvement as a positive indicator of the 34-year-old’s physical condition.

Prior to Giancarlo Stanton’s participation in a five-inning scoreless tie at Steinbrenner Field, Boone mentioned that the player was in excellent physical condition. He noted that the slugger is likely the strongest player still on the team and has shown improvement in his mobility. According to the skipper, this improvement has been noticeable to the strength and conditioning staff, as well as the training staff responsible for initial assessments.

Boone believes that Giancarlo Stanton’s readiness to engage in outfield activities at this early stage, particularly since it is still February, reflects positively on his current physical state and confidence in his body.

Giancarlo Stanton’s performance included a 1-for-2 outing, where he connected for a single by directing the ball the opposite way against a 97 mph fastball delivered high in the zone by left-hander Ryan Weathers. Post-game, he mentioned that his adjustments to his swing haven’t been significant, noting that he simply made a slight alteration by maintaining his hands “a bit closer to his body.”

Giancarlo Stanton mentioned that he is focusing on regaining his rhythm, expressing satisfaction with his timing, stating that it has been consistent.

Yankees hitting coach equally positive

James Rowson, the new hitting coach, emphasized the significance of Giancarlo Stanton’s comfort with the subtly adjusted batting stance.

Rowson remarked that Giancarlo Stanton’s positive feelings about his performance are crucial. He emphasized the mental aspect of hitting, noting that the slugger approaches each at-bat with confidence and feels formidable at the plate. Rowson suggested that the offseason work Stanton put in is beginning to yield results for him at this early stage of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton concluded his least successful season yet, recording a batting average of .191 alongside 24 home runs and a .695 OPS in 101 games played. However, the Yankees maintain confidence in his potential for improvement following his physical transformation during the offseason.

Boone expressed optimism regarding Giancarlo Stanton’s potential, stating that if he can maintain his health, he possesses the necessary strength and fast-twitch capabilities to achieve success.

“I think so,” Boone said. “If he can stay healthy, absolutely he has all the strength and fast twitch to get that done.”

Giancarlo Stanton’s participation in Thursday’s game marked the first time since 2019 (due to the leap year) that he played an outfield game in February. Notably, he did participate in an outfield game during his second spring training appearance in 2022, which was impacted by the lockout.

Manager Aaron Boone mentioned that Giancarlo Stanton expressed feeling slightly ahead of schedule regarding his field activity upon his arrival at spring training this year. While not a regular requirement, his ability to play the outfield offers the Yankees valuable lineup flexibility, especially considering the anticipated need for Aaron Judge to receive occasional designated hitter (DH) days as a break from his center-field responsibilities.

New York Yankees Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton at Spring Training 2024
Instagram/ Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton’s offseason weight loss, while maintaining his strength according to Boone, could theoretically lead to improved agility in both the field and on the bases. However, it is important to acknowledge that these potential improvements are still in their early stages and are expected to develop gradually.

Boone expressed his hopes that the weight loss would primarily contribute to Giancarlo Stanton’s health. Additionally, Boone emphasized the anticipated benefits of improved agility, athleticism, and overall presence on the bases and as a viable fielding option.

However, for that to become significant, Giancarlo Stanton must ensure that his physical enhancements translate to his performance at the plate. Rowson mentioned that there is a notable hitter within Stanton, referencing the consistency reflected on his baseball record. Rowson acknowledged the challenges of baseball and emphasized Giancarlo Stanton’s ongoing adjustments over the years, highlighting that such adaptability is characteristic of accomplished players. Rowson expressed contentment with Stanton’s current position.

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