Picture Giancarlo Stanton.
Nope, he’s bigger than that.
The Marlins’ hulking, slugging right fielder is built like an NFL tight end, and maybe he would be one right now had pesky ol’ baseball not gotten in the way. In his salad days as Mike Stanton, he was a great high school wide receiver recruited by schools like USC.
Now the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Stanton does not catch bombs, he launches them, hitting 37 home runs last year. But he has noticed something different about this MLB season. Pitchers are avoiding him, throwing under 40 percent of their pitches to him in the strike zone for the lowest mark in baseball.
“You gotta be a little more patient this year when you’re not getting as much in the strike zone,” Stanton said as his Miami Marlins are in Pittsburgh this week.
But it seems to be fine by him. He is waiting out his pitches (swinging at a career-low 28 percent of pitches out of the zone) and taking his walks (career-high 15 percent BB rate).
“Usually when you swing at strikes you’ll be all right unless you’re having a rough time,” Stanton said. “[I've] been pretty good with staying in the zone from what I normally am.”
One last question for the 23-year-old, is he able to relax now that the trade winds to Texas or Pittsburgh have stopped blowing?
“I was relaxed before that. Whatever happens, you just live with it,” Stanton said. “You got to deal with it regardless.”
National League pitcher have to deal with him too. Maybe they wish he would have kept playing football.
Josh Harrison: The Morning After
The feeling lasts when you hit a walk-off home run. Josh Harrison continued to feel the good vibes from Tuesday night’s pinch-hit shot all the way through this morning.
“It stays with you, because your phone is still blowing up,” Harrison said. “It was exciting last night, but we got another one today.”
And in another one, Harrison is starting in right field and batting 7th. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said it’s an example of playing the hot bat and he does not “envision” Harrison in the mix for regular playing time in the outfield.
“Josh has shown the ability to get plugged into the lineup,” Hurdle said.
A Lambo Leap in August?
Yes, Hurdle and the Pirates are aware that Andrew Lambo hit his 30th and 31st home runs of his minor-league season Tuesday night. They’re aware of the .282/.343/.581 triple-slash over Double-A and Triple-A this year. They know what’s happening.
If Lambo is going to join the active roster before August 31 “so [he's] in play for postseason,” it will likely not be before the Pirates return to PNC Park next Friday, August 16. Hurdle said when the team comes back they “might look” at adding someone like Lambo.
One thing is for sure, Indianapolis provides a place for the 24-year-old to be assured of regular playing time, even though Hurdle says he is not still in the minors because of his defense.
“He’s not staying down there to get more reps in the outfield,” Hurdle said. “It’s not going to hurt Andrew to continue to get at-bats, to play, to hit with confidence.”
In the meantime, the team will continue to give more opportunities to Alex Presley (61 plate appearances this year) and Jose Tabata (184 PA’s) as Hurdle is “trying to find out what their ceilings are.”
Snider, Wandy Update
- Outfield Travis Snider (left big toe discomforted) began minimal work. He has started to throw and swing off a tee.
- Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) finished with a “major part” of his throwing progression Wednesday by throwing from a slope. Hurdle described it as a “real good day” for the lefty. Rodriguez is scheduled to throw a 25-pitch bullpen session in Colorado.