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At 34 and after 5 seasons of injuries, Yanks' Stanton says he's 'got to change the narrative'

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton's condition was dissected on his first day back at Yankees spring training much like pastrami at a New York deli: how lean?

A markedly slimmer Stanton stood by his corner locker after arriving in the refurbished clubhouse and discussed his decline from All-Star to albatross.

“I got to stay on the field and the start-stopping is not ideal,” he said Monday before his first workout. “I need to play, not be on the sidelines.”

At 34, Stanton realizes the repercussions of another subpar season, especially after the Yankees acquired Juan Soto and Trent Grisham.

“It looks really good,” manager Aaron Boone said. “This is kind of where he should be playing at this point in his career. And I think if you go back to even his MVP season, I think this is more in line with where he was kind of size and weight wise. ... I think he, we, everyone realized that it's probably better, especially with some of the things that he’s dealt with from an injury standpoint and being north of 30 years old, to play at a lighter weight and I don't think he's compromised much in the way of strength.”

New York owes $118 million in guaranteed pay through 2027, part of a $325 million, 13-year contract, and Stanton's salary has not matched his statistics — a .191 average with 24 homers and 60 RBIs last season.

“It’s not ideal in any form of anything last year. So, yeah, flushing that down the toilet wasn’t hard at all,” Stanton said. “If you don’t produce, there’s going to be adjustments.

“I don’t base it off luck. It’s just what it is, what it has been,” he added. “You got to change the narrative.”

Stanton's 6-foot-6 frame casts a shadow over the Yankees, who went 82-80 last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

He has not played a full season since 2018, the first year after New York acquired him from the Miami Marlins. He missed 266 of 708 games in the past five seasons (38%) because of a strained right biceps and strained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee (2019), strained left hamstring (2020), strained left quadriceps (2021), right ankle inflammation and left Achilles tendinitis (2022) and strained left hamstring (2023).

That prompted the Yankees' Brian Cashman to say at the general managers' meetings last Nov. 13: “He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game.”

Stanton said succinctly: “He knows my reaction to that.”

Stanton hit .233 with 97 homers and 259 RBIs over the past five years, down from .265 with 302 homers and 772 RBIs in his first nine seasons.

He has not hidden from answering questions about injuries and on-field struggles.

“I don't get paid to be a stand-up guy or say the right things. I’m here to produce and help us win a championship and that hasn’t happened and it needs to," he said. "I don't listen to noise. I understand the facts."

He said he's made changes to his swing, without elaborating, and did more running. Stanton was listed by the Yankees at 245 pounds last year. Asked what his weight was, Stanton paused and said: “Mmm, I'm not exactly positive right now.”

After playing 38 games in the outfield in 2022 and 33 last year, Stanton again wants to be useful with his glove, which opens the DH spot for Aaron Judge and others.

“This is the same narrative every year, the same questions about if I’m going to play in outfield,” Stanton said. “That’s always the ideal.”

Boone predicted the weight loss should make a difference.

“Guys that are going to be well over 200 pounds, even when they're lean, it’s a tough thing to to wear throughout the year, throughout a 162-game season,” he said.

Stanton said belief in himself isn’t an issue.

“It’s not a ego or confidence — rebuild of confidence. It’s a big stack of things that weren’t aligned,” he said. “This is a new year and after this, I’m not really much talking about last year too much.”

He doesn't listen to those who say his best years are past and want the Yankees to get rid of him.

“That’s been happening since day one here. So that's what it is," he said. “There’s all spectrums of whatever you’d like to find, so don’t go searching. You worry about what you can control, and I don’t do noise.”

FIXER UPPER

A gut renovation of the Yankees' Steinbrenner Field clubhouse transformed it into something close to a regular season facility.

There are 77 stalls, each with office chairs, overhead lighting that mimics pinstripes and an interlocking “NY” hanging from the ceiling with recessed blue lights. Each locker has a closet that can hold six bats.

Four sets of back-to-back television screens hang from a roughly 13-foot-high ceiling, and four additional screens are on stall walls with the daily schedule.

Part two of the renovation ahead of spring training 2025 will add a new weight room, dining facilities and a patio.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press