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Stanton returns to Marlins' starting lineup

Slugger goes 0-for-2 with two walks, run scored; exits after 6 innings
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- There was a new No. 2 hitter in the Marlins' lineup for their 4-3, 13-innning loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Giancarlo Stanton hasn't batted second in the order since he played for Class A Greensboro in 2008. Yet, that is where he made his return to the Marlins' starting nine. Manager Don Mattingly inserted him in the two-hole to maximize the number of at-bats for Stanton, who will only play the first five or six innings coming back from a Grade 3 left groin strain. As Stanton begins to play full games, Mattingly will move him back to the middle of the lineup accordingly.

Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- There was a new No. 2 hitter in the Marlins' lineup for their 4-3, 13-innning loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Giancarlo Stanton hasn't batted second in the order since he played for Class A Greensboro in 2008. Yet, that is where he made his return to the Marlins' starting nine. Manager Don Mattingly inserted him in the two-hole to maximize the number of at-bats for Stanton, who will only play the first five or six innings coming back from a Grade 3 left groin strain. As Stanton begins to play full games, Mattingly will move him back to the middle of the lineup accordingly.

Full Game Coverage

Stanton went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored before being pulled in the bottom of the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki replaced him.

Video: MIA@PHI: Stanton on his return to the lineup

"We're looking at six [innings]," Mattingly said before the game. "If it were one of those two hours through five, then maybe less. If it was really quick or if he didn't really have to do anything and the trainers are good with it, then maybe seven. … It gives him a chance to see three at-bats."

Although Stanton returned from a nearly month-long absence on Sept. 6, he has been limited to pinch-hitting duties. Friday marked the first time Stanton has played the field since Aug. 13.

"I'll be good enough to be out there," Stanton said. "I'll be fine."

Video: CWS@MIA: Stanton shaken up on final play of the game

It's a minor miracle that Stanton is back in the starting lineup with almost three weeks to go in the season. When he was originally diagnosed, Stanton was expected to possibly be out for the year. Simply being able to pinch-hit the last week of the season would have been considered a success.

Instead, Stanton has had five pinch-hit at-bats since Sept. 6, as a sort of quasi rehab assignment. With the organization's Minor League seasons over, Stanton had nowhere to go to get game action as he worked his way back. With the expanded September rosters, Stanton was able to rejoin the Marlins early and rehab with the big club while providing a bat off the bench.

"His becoming healthy came at a point where there's nowhere else to go," Mattingly said. "So we're having to do this here in big league games. … I look at him at this point, he's ready to go. He's ready to run, he's ready to score if he has to score on a base hit or something like that. It's not like we're sending a guy out there rehabbing."

Mattingly will ease Stanton back into the lineup. He may not play a full game for another week. That's up to the training staff. But while he's out there, it will be in right field. Marcell Ozuna had shifted from center to right in Stanton's absence, while Christian Yelich moved from left to center.

Yelich will remain in center, Mattingly said, while Ozuna will move to left. In the wide-open outfield of Marlins Park, Mattingly likes the ground Yelich covers, even if it means rendering Ozuna's strong arm slightly less of a weapon in left.

Stanton returns to the lineup of a team four games back of a National League Wild Card spot.

"They've been hanging on," Stanton said. "We're not out of it. It's not gonna be easy, either. But the opportunity's there. As long as I can help with that, that's what I'm here for."

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton