He’s back! In what can be termed as a shocking move, the Miami Marlins announced that right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was activated prior to the team’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
It may not be a Willis Reed-like comeback, but the Marlins sure could use Stanton’s bat and glove for the final month of the baseball season.
The team also announced that first baseman Justin Bour had been activated from the disabled list as well. Bour had been dealing with a high ankle sprain that has put him on the shelf the past eight weeks. Stanton’s injury, a severe groin strain, was expected to potentially end his season. Now, it looks like two power hitters have returned at the right time as Miami’s wild card hopes continue to sink in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Marlins will take whatever they can get right now. San Francisco, St. Louis, the New York Mets and Pittsburgh are all ahead of Miami in the wild card race. What as looking like a four-team race for two spots is now five teams with the hope of a Marlins surge on the horizon.
“He’s basically a bat off the bench right now,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re not talking about him being in right field three days from now. But we do expect that to happen at some point.”
Any defense Stanton can add would also be a big help in the outfield. The Marlins have used both Jeff Francoeur and Ichiro Suzuki in his place.
While Stanton is not the player he was before the injury, it is still thought it will take some time for him to get his timing and power back. Mattingly said the team expected him back by the last week of the season, then things changed a bit with his rehab.
“That’s the timetable we were given, too, and what we were really going by,” Mattingly said.
Now the slumping Marlins, who are on life support in the Wild Card playoff race, will have him for the final 24 games.
Stanton hit in a simulation game at Marlins Park before batting practice Tuesday, sending a home run into the vegetation growing just beyond the center field wall. Despite the progress and acceleration back to the bench, running is still a concern. He has been told to be cautious while crossing the base pads.
Like Stanton, Bour will be used as a pinch-hitter for now but could return to the lineup in a matter of days.
“It sure looks a lot better on my card when I look at it that these guys are available,” Mattingly said. “How effective they’ll be, with time off, you never know how that works,” he added. “Some guys come back and are rolling right away. Other guys, it takes at-bats to get that timing back.”
Marlins management is hoping the return of the team’s stars could mean an emotional lift to the lineup as well. Knowing there is more power off the bench and eventually in the lineup could jump start the team’s offense.