Stanton relishes excitement of Yanks debut

Slugger: '[People] can't wait to see what we can do'

February 23rd, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. -- Even though the details of 's first stroll to home plate in pinstripes aren't likely to be referenced in any future history texts, the image seemed to drip with importance as the slugger dug into the right-handed batter's box on Friday afternoon.

There are moments where Stanton can't completely process that he is here, on this team, so surely the rest of baseball should appreciate the visual evidence. Playing four innings in New York's 3-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Tigers, Stanton worked an eight-pitch walk before grounding into a double play.

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"It was fun, a lot of fun," said Stanton, who batted second and played right field. "I was just trying to get my timing out there. It was good. It was a good day."

Stanton said that he felt no significant nerves, but he acknowledged that there has been "a cool anticipation of something new and exciting." He was later asked how the Yankees' opener measured against what he experienced in past seasons with the Marlins.

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"How'd it compare? This is better," Stanton said. "Just more exciting, I'd say. More excitement. More can't wait, happy for spring -- it's a spring game, but [people] can't wait to see what we can do. That's what would be the difference."

After watching from the third-base dugout, Tigers star said that he expects Stanton to be an instant success in New York.

"I think he's going to have a great year," Cabrera said. "Like I say to every hitter going from the National League to the American League, you're going to hit more here than the National League, because this league is about more hitting. We have good pitchers, great pitchers in the American League, but you're going to face a ninth hitter.

"The National League, you face the pitcher. It's a big difference. Here, everybody can hit, so I think with that team they have and the stadium they play in, the division they play in -- I think he's going to be able to hit more home runs. I think he's going to hit more for average, too."

The afternoon also marked Aaron Boone's debut, with the rookie skipper carrying a lineup card out for the first time as a manager at any level. Boone was cheered in pregame introductions, but not as loudly as Stanton, who has taken on a Hollywood aura in a camp where each batting practice session is chronicled by a phalanx of media outlets.

"I think that goes with the pinstripes on; it adds a little bit to that," Boone said. "I think the excitement of this day and seeing a guy like Giancarlo out there, it seemed like a lot of people -- maybe even moreso than usual -- were really looking forward to this day."

Tigers left-hander worked carefully to Stanton in the first inning, missing with two fastballs away before the reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner fouled a pitch back. Carpenter dropped a slow curve for a called strike, then missed up and in with a heater to work the count full.

Stanton fouled the next two pitches back before taking ball four outside, passing the baton to Greg Bird, who batted third in Friday's lineup.

"I've got the best view in the house besides the catcher. I'm excited to learn from him," Bird said of Stanton. "I feel like even in BP and in practice, people are watching. They're not just at the park having a good time. They're watching. There was definitely a buzz, I think."

Facing Johnny Barbato in the third inning, Stanton chopped a grounder up the middle that second baseman converted into a 4-4-3 double play. Stanton shrugged, anticipating that the next five-plus weeks will provide plenty of time to iron out the kinks.

"Being completely ready, feeling how I would when I'm grooving in a season, it's a little bit of everything -- timing, sight," Stanton said. "I think the thing that takes longest is the mental aspect of the pitches. The sequencing, how they're going to pitch with runners on, without. … It's good. Reminds me how hard it is."