Giancarlo Stanton makes spring training debut for Yankees

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Friday, February 23, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. --Giancarlo Stanton had every reason to feel a little nervous Friday afternoon as he made his highly anticipated spring training debut with a new team that's full of lofty expectations.

But the New York Yankees right fielder, who's entering the fourth season of a 13-year, $325 million contract, contended the butterflies were quiet the moment he stepped onto George M. Steinbrenner Field in pinstripes for the first time. They remained that way the remainder of his four-inning appearance, he said.

"Once I get in between the lines, it's ready to go," Stanton said. "But it's definitely a cool anticipation. Something new -- new and exciting."

As Stanton dug into the batter's box in his newly minted stripes, a sellout crowd gave an ovation that caught his attention.

"It was great," he said. "[They're] happy for me to be here, and I'm happy to be here. There's excitement for everyone out there."

Even Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, who was on deck for Stanton's two plate appearances, could feel a ballpark buzz unlike any he detected in previous springs.

"I got the best view in the house, besides the catcher," Bird said. "I'm excited to watch him. I'm excited to learn from him."

All winter, Yankees fans have been eagerly awaiting one sight: a Stanton home run trot.

They'll have to keep waiting.

Despite the fanfare that accompanied Stanton's appearance in the 3-1 Yankees win over the Detroit Tigers, he finished his abbreviated outing with a tame stat line: 0-for-1 with a walk. In the field, two ground balls were hit his way, including a fourth-inning single to right from Miguel Cabrera.

It's still early. Rest assured, the home runs -- Stanton had a major league-leading 59 last season -- will come. That's why Stanton said his primary focus these days has to do with how he feels.

"I'm trying to get my timing out there," Stanton said.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone thought the power hitter fared well in that regard. The 10 total pitches Stanton saw, including the eight on his first-inning walk, displayed the type of patience Boone thought several Yankees showcased in his first game as their manager.

"Seeing a guy like Giancarlo out there, it seemed like a lot of people, maybe more so than usual, were really looking forward to this day," Boone said.

The Yankees will be traveling Saturday to nearby Brandenton, Florida, to face the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stanton isn't scheduled to make that trip, meaning his next appearance could come Sunday afternoon in Clearwater, Florida, against the Philadelphia Phillies. The night after, the Yankees host the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field.

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