The Marlins’ Mike Stanton is a beast, but he’s been a sidelined beast this spring, battling a leg injury. He made his spring debut yesterday, however, and he murdered baseballs:
Stanton not only left his indelible mark on the scoreboard — a tape-measure line-drive shot that traveled an estimated 500 feet — but also the Boston Red Sox and a sellout crowd at Roger Dean Stadium.
Stanton smashed two home runs on the afternoon, and when he was lifted for a pinch runner after knocking in his seventh run of the afternoon with a sharp single to center, many in the pro-Red Sox crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Because he’s a Marlin he doesn’t get as much press as guys like Jason Heyward or Buster Posey, but in many ways, there may not have been a more auspicious debt last season than Mike Stanton’s, even if a lot of people didn’t realize it at the time. He may take some time to figure out the strike zone — he struck out 123 times in 100 games last year — but lord have mercy does that young man have power.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.