06/09/10 12:40 AM EST
Stanton sparkles in three-hit debut
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
In his possession will be the baseball that his son slapped for an infield single in the second inning Tuesday night.
As is customary in benchmark moments, the ball was retrieved and presented to the player.
"I'll give it to my dad and send it home," Stanton said. "He can do what he wants with it."
The 20-year-old sensation made his big league debut for the Marlins on Tuesday night. Admittedly, he was calmer than he thought he would be. It showed with his composure at the plate and in right field. He went 3-for-5 with three singles and, looked like he belongs in the big leagues.
"I was definitely a little more relaxed than I thought I'd be," Stanton said.
The downside of the night was that Florida lost, 10-8, to Philadelphia in front of 44,098 at Citizens Bank Park.
If Tuesday is any indication of what is to come, Stanton appears to be headed for a bright Major League career.
"I was happy for him. Three knocks," said Chris Coghlan, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year. "I know what it's like when you play that first game. You have a lot of adrenaline and excitement built up. It's great to get a hit in that first at-bat. That kind of took the weight off."
On the field, Stanton looks the part. Standing 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, the 20-year-old is an imposing presence in the Marlins' lineup.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez placed Stanton seventh in the lineup against the Phillies.
"It was a good night for him," Gonzalez said. "Not so good for the Fish overall."
Thanks to teammate Brett Hayes, Stanton will dress the part off the field.
A big change from life in the Minor Leagues is the team dress code, especially on travel day. The team requires a suit, which is something Stanton didn't pack with him. He was on the road, at Montgomery, Ala., when he was personally called by team owner Jeffrey Loria on Sunday.
Hayes, Florida's backup catcher, attended the same high school as Stanton, Notre Dame H.S. in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
"I got a suit," Stanton said. "Brett Hayes, he had to make me feel at home."
The Marlins were off on Monday, and Stanton arrived in Philadelphia at 3 p.m. ET. In Double-A, players can travel in a collared shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. Not so in the big leagues.
So Stanton and Hayes went shopping. Hayes purchased the suit, which won't be ready until Thursday.
"Massive," Hayes said of the suit. "It will probably take a month, because he's so big."
The tailor, however, says the suit will be ready on Thursday, before the final game of the series in Philadelphia.
Stanton's impressive size stands out. So did his eye-opening numbers at Jacksonville. In 52 games, he belted 21 homers with 52 RBIs.
For months, there has been speculation about when Stanton would reach the Majors. That day came on Tuesday. Making last-minute plans, he was able to have his father, Mike, and some close friends on hand for his debut.
Stanton, however, wasn't sure when it would come until he received a personal call from the team owner.
"Jeffrey called me on the way to the field in Montgomery," said Stanton, the No. 3 prospect in the game, according to Jonathan Mayo's Top 50 Prospects survey, announced on MLB Network and MLB.com. "He just said, 'I'm sick of waiting,' and he wanted to see me up here with the big boys, and be ready to go.
"It was definitely a good feeling. He checked up on me, to make sure I got in all right."
Loria, on hand to see Stanton's first game, said he joked around while breaking the news.
"I asked him what the heck he was doing in Montgomery?" Loria said. "I said, 'You're not going to play there. We took you out of the lineup.' I was [like], 'What? OK.' He's a very cool guy."
Gonzalez opted to bat Stanton No. 7 after doing some research. Miguel Cabrera, who broke in with the Marlins at age 20 in 2003, initially batted eighth.
Gonzalez looked at players like Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and others. What the manager noted was that some of the players who went to college batted higher than young high school prospects.
Drafted in the second round in 2007, Stanton signed immediately with the Marlins.
"It's a good spot for him," Gonzalez said. "Let him have fun. Whether we win, lose or draw, I want him to have a big smile on his face. You only get your first hit in the big leagues once. We want him to enjoy that.
"We've got some other guys -- Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Cody Ross -- let those guys carry the weight."
Not that Stanton can't carry his own weight. A three-sport standout in high school, the slugger is already developing legendary eating habits.
Before Tuesday's game, he wanted to eat two cheesesteaks, but Hayes advised him to have one.
During batting practice, veteran Wes Helms told Stanton the food at the big league level is far better than the Minor Leagues.
"I've already talked with him in the outfield while we were hitting," Helms said. "One thing you'll realize right away is the spreads. You get fed much better than in Double-A. You're going to definitely have a lot better choices of food. I'm sure he will put a dent in it."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.