TAMPA, Fla. -- As Giancarlo Stanton shagged fly balls before Game 5 of last year’s American League Division Series, one Yankees staffer mentioned that the slugger looked healthy enough to play the outfield in that night’s game. The club may offer a chance to prove that thesis this spring.
Stanton participated in outfield drills on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, chasing down drives alongside Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and others. General manager Brian Cashman has said that he intends for Stanton to serve as a designated hitter this year, but manager Aaron Boone said he’d like Stanton to keep his outfield skills sharp.
“I don’t want to be completely resigned to him just being a full-time DH,” Boone said. “I think the more he can continue to stay athletic and be an option on defense, I don’t think it’s out of the question. Ultimately it might be something that actually does help him stay more healthy.”
Stanton played 158 games in his first season with the Yankees in 2018, but he has missed 181 of a possible 222 regular-season games over the last two years due to a myriad of injuries. At the advisement of performance coach Eric Cressey, Stanton and Judge are both backing off heavy weightlifting and incorporating yoga into their training regimens.
“I think it's going to make big adjustments, especially a lot of the movement stuff that he has us doing,” Judge said. “A lot of stuff with medicine balls, just getting those explosive movements; I feel like that's where a lot of the things happen with those quick, explosive movements. So just training a little bit more with that and a little less straight bench-press and squat, I think it’s going to help out.”
First day down
The first full-squad workout of 2021 was a socially distanced affair. Position players gathered at Steinbrenner Field, split into infield and outfield groups, while pitchers and catchers remained at the player development complex about a half-mile away.
“I was back and forth,” said Boone, who addressed the position players before watching bullpens at the other site. “It was a busy day; our coaches and staff were very busy. But all in all, I thought it was a good first full day where everyone had a productive day of work.”
Germán addressed the position players at Steinbrenner Field and the pitchers and catchers at the player development complex. Boone estimated that the speeches took about 30 minutes.
“I thought it was impactful, I hope,” Boone said. “I believe that it was a good step. In looking at it, it was something that is important to happen. I think it gave everyone a chance to get in the room and really start that conversation. It sets the table to continue having those conversations.”
“From a talent perspective, he’s been around for a long time, and he’s always trying to get better,” Cole said. “Just in passing today, he gave me a few tips on some of the stuff he was seeing yesterday in one at-bat. He’s into a lot of the game planning and conversations on how we’re attacking teams as a group, especially in our division. I found that really enjoyable and helped to support the group.”
Outfielder Estevan Florial’s arrival at camp has been delayed due to a visa issue, according to Boone, who said that all other position players reported on time.
The Yankees will continue their workouts on Wednesday, with position players assembling at Steinbrenner Field. Pitchers and catchers will use the player development complex. The workouts are not open to the public.