In theory, the Yankees have the kind of overpowering offense where manager Aaron Boone’s plan with Giancarlo Stanton’s playing time wouldn’t provide such occasional insurmountable absences.
But after just two games into the 2021 season, Stanton was benched for the rubber match of the opening series against the Toronto Blue Jays — which the Yankees lost 3-1.
It was a less than inspiring start for the Bronx Bombers’ attack, as they scored just eight runs over their first three games before Monday night’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Stanton himself had gone 0-for-8 in his first two appearances; hardly the kind of start for a slugger who finds himself in a precarious standing with a ruthless fan base.
This is the former NL MVP who has been no stranger to merciless boos from the bleacher creatures during slumps, only to be lauded as a walking god when he puts together a performance as he did in the postseason last year when he hit six home runs in seven games.
His day off had nothing to do with his slow start, though; more load management — which is a term that is commonplace in the NBA rather than Major League Baseball.
“I’m not gonna play G probably five days in a row,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “That was kind of what I told him. So I figured, this was the best day to do that.
“Nothing more than that.”
It certainly makes sense for Boone and the Yankees to try and do everything possible to keep Stanton fresh, thus decreasing the chances of picking up an injury. The 31-year-old had played in a combined 41 games out of a possible 222 in the previous two seasons.
But by saying Stanton won’t play once in every five or six games, Boone is already limiting the power bat — which is expected to be used exclusively as a DH — to 130 games.
Should he pick up any other nagging issue, that number will only decrease for a player who has put some pretty sizable expectations on his own shoulders heading into 2021.
“I would say that I have a better sense of the zone, a different approach to pitchers,” Stanton said during spring training after agreeing with the sentiment that he is a better hitter now than he was when he hit 59 home runs during a 2017 NL MVP campaign with the Marlins.
“The results or whatever statistically might be minute… but I’m definitely a better hitter than that point. Have the results shown? No. But I am.”