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Stanton sheds cage, puts in early work for Derby

MIL View Full Game Coverage WAUKEE -- Home Run Derby practice officially started for Giancarlo Stanton on Monday afternoon at Miller Park.

The Marlins right fielder will represent the National League at the Derby on July 9 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Stanton was on the field about an hour before the rest of the Marlins took batting practice on Monday, taking pitches from third-base coach Joe Espada.

For about 10 minutes, Stanton worked on driving the ball over the wall. In his normal batting practice, the slugger has a routine of first going to right field and then refining his approach for that particular day.

The big difference at the Derby is the hitters won't be inside a cage, commonly called a turtle.

"We know what he can do," hitting coach Eduardo Perez said. "It's actually about the cage, the turtle. We're so used to having batting practice with the cage. We never really have batting practice without that cage. It's basically getting him used to that.

"We want him to start hitting line drives. His line drives are usually homers. You try to control that adrenaline. That's going to be over there on July 9."

Once Stanton got in his groove, he started showing what those who are involved with the Marlins on a daily basis know. He can belt the ball a long way.

Stanton clanked a ball high off the video scoreboard in straightaway center. He bounced a couple off the luxury boxes on the second level in left field. And with the back wall open, he cleared the bleachers in left and knocked a ball literally out of the park.

National League Derby captain Matt Kemp of the Dodgers suggested that Stanton work without the cage.

"He gave me a few things to know," Stanton said. "We got to get a little bit of the feel. We can't just go with the way I take BP and change things up that day. You've got to get a little practice when you do something like that."

The Marlins still have a week's worth of games before the All-Star break. And Stanton is staying focused on helping the Marlins as well as getting ready for the Derby and All-Star Game.

"I still have got to play Major League games," the first-time All-Star said. "It's going to be fun, all of that. It's going to be a great time. But I still have seven games to go. I can't go out there thinking, 'Home Run Derby, Home Run Derby.' I know it's in the back of my head, but I still have stuff to do."

On Friday, the Marlins will be in St. Louis, a franchise for which Perez used to play. Perez says he plans on talking with Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire and Carlos Beltran, who also is in the Derby.

Perez will be looking for more pointers to assist Stanton on how to approach the event.

The Marlins also will be monitoring Stanton's total swings, because he will be active at the Home Run Derby.

"Some days we're not going to have him hit a lot," Perez said, referring to batting practice. "Some rounds are going to be shortened for him. There will be days where we have BP and he won't. When guys go to the All-Star Game, you've got guys who will have those three days off completely. He won't. He will have a heavy day on Monday."

Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton