It wasn’t at all surprising to see Giancarlo Stanton break out of his early season batting slump in Miami’s 8-2 win over Atlanta on Tuesday. However, he did do something that was a little unexpected.
For the first time since being hit in the face with a fastball last September, Stanton went to the plate in a major league game without the protective face mask he’s been wearing since the start of spring training. He had it attached to his helmet for his first four plate appearances but when he emerged for his final trip to the batter’s box in the ninth inning, the guard was conspicuously absent.
After the game, Stanton told the Palm Beach Post the decision to remove the shield was because Braves lefty Andrew McKirahan was on the mound, and while not a permanent move it sounds like it could happen again on occasion:
But Stanton said don’t get used to the clean look. The only reason he didn’t wear the mask was because he was facing a left hander.
When Stanton was asked if he’d continue to wear the protection against righties, he said, “I’ll wear it against righties for the most part, most likely.”
Then he was asked if would wear it [Wednesday] with Braves lefty Eric Stults on the mound. “Honestly, it’s whatever I feel like doing.”
And when he got up Wednesday, he felt like not wearing it again:
Stanton is not wearing face mask vs. LHP Stults. #Marlins
— Tom D’Angelo (@tomdangelo44) April 15, 2015
Mask or no mask though, Tuesday was easily Stanton’s best performance of the young season. The Marlins star outfielder entered the game with just three hits in 23 at-bats but he went 3 for 3 against Atlanta with a couple walks. In the at-bat without the added facial protection, Stanton ripped a two RBI double down the third base line. He bumped his average up to .231 for the year, but is still waiting for his first homer. There’s little doubt that it will come soon.
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