Maybe the most shocking news of the night in the return of Giancarlo Stanton to the Miami Marlins’ lineup wasn’t the 0-2 start he had, rather the fact the outfielder batted second against the Philadelphia Phillies.
According to Evan Webeck, Stanton hasn't batted second in the order since he played for Class A Greensboro in 2008. Yet, that is where he made his return to the Marlins' starting nine. Manager Don Mattingly inserted him in the two-hole to maximize the number of at-bats for Stanton, who will only play the first five or six innings coming back from a Grade 3 left groin strain.
The news that Stanton was even in the lineup was enough to give the team hope of turning around a second half of 2016 to sneak into the National League postseason. The 4-3 loss to the Phillies further damaged that possibility.
Stanton was activated from the disabled list earlier in the month, but wasn’t allowed to run or play in the outfield because he was still recovering from the injury. Now, with a solid bat in the order, he could give the team the boost it needs, but the playoffs are becoming a faded dream. Miami is 73-74 on the season.
Stanton went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored before being pulled in the bottom of the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki replaced him.
"We're looking at six [innings]," Mattingly said before the game. "If it were one of those two hours through five, then maybe less. If it was really quick or if he didn't really have to do anything and the trainers are good with it, then maybe seven. … It gives him a chance to see three at-bats."
The Marlins decided to use Stanton in a pitching hitting role as a form of rehab, given that the team’s minor league organizations have already completed their seasons. He has been used for six pinch-hit at bats since September 6 but Friday night was the first chance for him to get out in the field and play a position. With the expanded September rosters, Stanton was able to rejoin the Marlins early and rehab with the big club while providing a bat off the bench.
The plan is to continue to ease him back into the lineup on a full-time basis. He may not play a full game for at least another week, Mattingly said.