Last night, the Miami Marlins reactivated Giancarlo Stanton from the disabled list and brought him off the bench for a pinch-hit single. It was a nice moment for a change for a Marlins team that had been wracked by injuries that caused their playoff chances to come to a halt. Stanton, after all, went on the disabled list as he was continuing his nice recovery from a rough first half to the 2016 year. He was sidelined with a grade 3 groin strain in mid-August and was presumed to be out for the remainder of the season, but the Marlins mysteriously returned him to the team today.
However, Stanton is not without his limitations. He did not start tonight, and indeed he has yet to clear him to return to the actual lineup.
Stanton will be used as a pinch hitter only for now. Uncertain how long it will be before he can return to lineup— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) September 6, 2016
Manager Don Mattingly said that for now, Stanton is strictly a pinch-hitting option. However, trainer Dustin Luepker and the medical staff said the power-hitting right fielder could also run the bases.Manager Don Mattingly said that for now, Stanton is strictly a pinch-hitting option. However, trainer Dustin Luepker and the medical staff said the power-hitting right fielder could also run the bases.
"He's basically a bat off the bench right now, and he will continue to rehab," Mattingly said. "We feel like he will continue to get better and better. We'll see if he will be able to get back on the field or not to play the outfield and things like that.""He's basically a bat off the bench right now, and he will continue to rehab," Mattingly said. "We feel like he will continue to get better and better. We'll see if he will be able to get back on the field or not to play the outfield and things like that."
It is an interesting move on a number of angles for the Fish. On the one hand, getting Stanton along with long-time injured first baseman Justin Bour, who has been sidelined for two months with a high ankle sprain, has to be a morale boost for a team that has really struggled over the last few weeks. The Fish have not done anything particularly well in their most recent stretch of games, and it just has to be nice to see some good news for a change for a clubhouse that has really gelled together. Seeing Stanton and Bour swing the bat has to be a big benefit just for the visage of it.
On the other hand, Stanton is clearly not “100 percent” healthy, or else the team would not be restricting his play to merely bench appearances. The thought was that Stanton’s injury was severe enough that the Fish were not planning on having him back until late September, and even then the prevailing thought was that this would only happen if Miami were still contending around that time. Stanton is back way ahead of schedule, and the limitations could mean that there is some risk for him to even be out there swinging at live pitching and potentially running the bases in-game. It is unlikely the team will have him do much more than that, but running the bases is exactly how Stanton initially injured himself to begin with. At the very least, you can be pretty sure Stanton will only gingerly be trotting in for routine doubles rather than running hard on any pinch hits.
One might say this and question why the Marlins even got him involved. The team is way out of contention now, as they are five games back of the New York Mets for the second Wild Card. Having Stanton just pinch hit every other game or so is unlikely to push Miami into contention, while even that limited level of play could aggravate an injury. Why take this kind of risk with live pitching?
On the other hand, you might question whether the Marlins are really taking that much more risk with Stanton facing in-game stuff. If the doctors cleared him to play now off of the disabled list, it is likely they would have cleared him shortly to begin an actual rehab stint had this occurred at any other time during the season. However, because this occurred in August into September, the Marlins were stuck in a situation in which Stanton and Bour had no real options for rehabilitation stints in the minors, as all of the Marlins affiliates have wrapped up their regular seasons. Without low-level minor league teams playing, the only place to rehab is at the big league level, and with rosters expanded, there is essentially no cost to activating these guys and having them around. Manager Don Mattingly can work closely with the doctors and trainers to come up with a regimen for use that would mimic their typical rehab run without tasking them much or costing the team roster spots.
Ultimately, this is likely a pretty low-cost move. If Stanton exhibits that he is playing better, Marlins fans can be a little more at ease about him and his (recent) health. They can easily shut him down if they feel there are any issues. The only concern is the fact that he is facing live Major League pitching, but the scare of a beanball could have happened in a minor league stint as well. Overall, as long as Miami is careful with these health risks, Stanton and the rest of the team’s ailing arms and bats should be OK for the remainder of 2016.