JUPITER, Fla. (AP)—Giancarlo Stanton homered Tuesday on an 0-2 fastball over the plate, a pitch he’s likely to seldom see this season.
Stanton had 37 homers last year and led the NL in slugging. Because he’s one of only two returning starters from opening day 2012 following an offseason payroll purge, he expects teams to pitch around him a lot.
“With less than two outs, they’re probably going to fool around with me a little bit more,” he said.
Stanton got a pitch he could handle against Hansel Robles. Matt Downs also homered off Robles.
Casey Kotchman hit a grand slam in his first at-bat of spring training against Mets starter Jenrry Mejia Kotchman had been sidelined for the past week after he ran into a pop-up machine during drills and needed four stitches to close a cut on his left ring finger.
Mejia required 30 pitches to get through his one inning and allowed five runs. The right-hander, battling for a spot on the roster, was making his first appearance of spring training.
“I’m sure he was a little anxious,” manager Terry Collins said. “These young guys have to get ready. When you’re trying to make a club, you’ve got to get ready to pitch. It’s a little different when you’re a 10-year veteran. It’s another thing when you’re trying to impress the manager. He just threw way too many balls in the middle of the plate.”
Mets prospect Cory Mazzoni pitched three hitless innings.
“He has been everything I heard about him,” Collins said. “Very impressive.”
Ricky Nolasco the Marlins’ likely opening day starter, pitched two scoreless innings in his first outing.
Stanton said he wants to reduce his total of 143 strikeouts last year and realizes that will mean taking a lot of pitches. He’s mostly happy with his pitch selection so far in spring training.
“I’ve felt good,” he said. “Today was the first time I was swinging at things I shouldn’t have, but I felt good.”
Manager Mike Redmond said that while patience at the plate is important, he’s eager to see Stanton swinging, especially at this time of year.
“His at-bats have been good,” Redmond said. “You want guys to be aggressive because you have to find out where you are. If you just go up there and take, you never seen where you are.
“He got a fastball and he hit it. That’s what he does.”