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2 posts from February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

Loss-weary Giancarlo Stanton: "I'm not a loser"

JUPITER -- One can understand any frustration Giancarlo Stanton might have simply by looking at the Marlins' won-loss records during his four seasons in Miami. The Marlins finished 80-82 in 2010, the year he made his debut, and it's been downhill ever since: 79-90 in 2011, 69-93 in 2012 and 62-100 last season.

No wonder Stanton said he is tired of it.

"I'm competitive, so I don't take losing well," Stanton said Thursday to a group of reporters. "I'm not a loser. That's not what I'm accustomed to. That's not what I like to do. So obviously it hasn't been ideal so far. And I don't want a career like that. So we've got to push it forward and start turning it around."

Stanton has said he wants to see matters begin to stabilize with the Marlins, which has been a roller-coaster ride for him ever since his arrival, before making any plans to stay with the club long-term. Stanton is in his first year of salary arbitration and can hit free agency after the 2016 season.

"It's been a circus -- low, high-low..." Stanton said of the up-and-down years with the franchise.

Stanton said he likes the additions the team made during the offseason, but that's it's too early to begin making any kind of predictions. He remembers too well what happened in 2012 when the Marlins, as they prepared to move into their new ballpark, went on a free agent buying spree, gussied up the roster, and fell flat on their face.

"You can't just get a bunch of big names that aren't going to win together on the field," Stanton said. "Baseball is that one sport where you can't bring a bunch of guys in and expect it to click right away. So there's the chemistry that translates to how you play on the field."

Stanton said it's more important to stay healthy and play as many games as possible, something he's had trouble doing, than to establish personal goals such as home runs and batting average.

"If you're there the whole season, then you don't have to worry about home runs and average," he said. "It's the little out for three weeks (with injury), out for his long, that sets you back for everything. It sets your timing back. It sets everything back. If you're there every day of the season, it's (statistics) going to pan out for itself."

On a side note, Stanton said he had a 50-yard line seat at the Rose Bowl when Florida State defeated Auburn for the national championship. Stanton, a former standout in football in high school who decided to play baseball for a living, respects FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, a reliever for the Seminoles' baseball team.

Asked if he would like the chance to stand in against Winston on the baseball field, Stanton replied, 'Yeah, that would be cool. I've seen him thrown from the outfield, and he's got an arm."

The remaking of Rafael Furcal

JUPITER -- Rafael Furcal has been putting in extra time with Marlins infield coach Perry Hill on the practice field getting re-acquainted with second base. Furcal, a shortstop for the vast majority of his 13 major league seasons, hasn't played second since 2004 and last started a game there in 2002 when he was with the Braves.

Contrary to perception, Hill said the transition going from shortstop to second base is more difficult than it is the other way around.

"Taking arm strength out of the equation, it's more difficult from short to second than it is from second to short," Hill said. "Think about your double play pivot. When I come across the base (as a shortstop), I have a feel for where the base runner is. I have no idea where he is (as a second baseman). Plus, at second, I'm throwing it across my body almost everything I do."

Hill said that, for shortstop, "everything is happening in front of them."

"For second basemen, 70 percent of what you do is behind you," Hill said. "When a second baseman charges a slow roller, first base is now behind me. It's not as easy as people think. People think when someone goes to second, they're thinking of the ground ball right at him and the shorter throw. That's one-tenth of it. The other nine-tenths is hard."

Hill said he doubts Furcal will have any trouble making the adjustment to the new position, or getting used to Adeiny Hechavarria as his double play partner.

"I've mapped it out for them," Hill said. "Two weeks from now it'll be like they've played there forever."

Check out video of Hill working with Furcal in "The Bone Yard," Hill's private mini-sanctuary for infield instruction: