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Stanton clubs no-doubter for first spring HR

@BryanHoch
March 8, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton crushed a team-leading 38 home runs in his debut season with the Yankees, and there was no doubt about his first of the new year, a titanic blast that cleared the left-field party deck at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "It was a long one," manager

TAMPA, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton crushed a team-leading 38 home runs in his debut season with the Yankees, and there was no doubt about his first of the new year, a titanic blast that cleared the left-field party deck at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"It was a long one," manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees' 6-5 loss to the Tigers on Friday night. "It was one of those that if you didn't know the player, you'd say, 'G just hit that ball.'"

Stanton had logged three singles through his first 15 Grapefruit League at-bats, working three walks against four strikeouts. He teed off on a breaking ball from Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd, circling the bases for a two-run jack that came with Aaron Judge aboard.

It was a long day at the ballpark for Stanton, who volunteered for extra at-bats in a morning simulated game on a back diamond of the complex. Stanton took those rips against right-handers Drew Hutchison and Chad Green.

"He's working hard," Boone said. "Good to see him get a good result. He has been working some counts and getting some walks and things. He's still working to find that timing."

Dealin' Dellin

Boone said he had little concern about Dellin Betances' velocity after the right-hander was clocked between 88 and 91 mph in his first spring appearance. That ticked up to 93 mph on Friday, as Betances struck out two in a clean fifth inning.

"I'm a slow starter in Spring Training," Betances said. "This has always been a topic. Every time Dellin Betances comes and he's throwing 88 to 90, everybody freaks out. I'm like, 'It's all right. It's a process.' At the end of spring, I'm back. Every year is going to be the same thing."

Hey Mr. DJ

DJ LeMahieu is working on expanding his skill set, having broken in his first baseman's glove during a lengthy session this week. The working plan is for LeMahieu to play first base in a game early next week; envisioned as the backup for either Greg Bird or Luke Voit, the 30-year-old LeMahieu has played 13 big-league innings at the position, and none since 2014.

"I know he'll be fine fielding the ball and doing the little things over there," Boone said. "It's getting in a game where you're shading a guy over, shifting and all of a sudden there's a base hit -- where do I go? It's not like everywhere else, where it's kind of instinctive. He's played second so long, he knows exactly what to do. It's more about experiencing those moments in the game that are position-specific."

Giving HOPE

The Yankees celebrated the 10th anniversary of HOPE Week with a pregame ceremony on Friday, honoring GiGi's Playhouse Tampa, a non-profit organization available to serve the nearly 3,400 individuals of all ages living with Down syndrome in Florida's Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Opened in August 2018, the center offers programs specifically tailored to the learning styles of those with Down syndrome, taught by volunteers in the education and therapeutic fields. The programs are free of cost to the families being served.

HOPE Week will take place in New York from June 17-21. All past honorees will be invited to a reunion at Yankee Stadium on June 17. Fans can learn more about the initiative and nominate inspirational individuals for recognition by visiting HOPEWeek.com.

Bombers bits

• Friday marked Troy Tulowitzki's first time playing in back-to-back games this spring. Serving as the leadoff hitter, Tulowitzki played five innings in the field and he struck out in all three of his plate appearances. He is 3-for-14 (.214) with two homers.

• Aaron Hicks (lower back stiffness) swung a bat and played catch. Boone said that though they believe Hicks' situation is minor, the Yankees' plan to keep him out through Monday's off-day.

Up next

The Yankees will hit the road on Saturday as they take on the Orioles at 6:05 p.m. ET in Sarasota, Fla. Watch on MLB.TV as right-hander Luis Cessa starts for New York, opposite right-hander Dylan Bundy.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.