JUPITER, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton is a two-time All-Star, a home run champion and a National League MVP runner-up. But for the first time in years, the 25-year-old slugger actually feels part of a playoff contender.
Asked directly on Tuesday if the Marlins are a postseason team, Stanton responded: "Yes. We'll see."
Stanton also is the first to remind that talk is cheap, and the club has to live up to the lofty expectations.
"We've got to do it," he said. "We don't just say this every Spring Training: Playoffs, World Series. You've got to do it. We have the caliber and talent to be there, of course. What we do come August and September, that's up to us."
Since Stanton broke in as a rookie in 2010, the Marlins last openly talked playoffs in Spring Training in 2012. Then, the team had a high-profile, high-priced club that underperformed and was abruptly disassembled.
This year, Stanton is firmly entrenched as the centerpiece of an improved squad, and he's one of the faces of Major League Baseball.
"It's huge to be considered one of the faces of baseball," Stanton said. "It's everything I work for. It's the long hours in the offseason and just preparing myself. It's big. It's good. Just keep playing hard."
Tuesday marked the first day that Stanton and Marlins position players took the field. The club made strides last season, but struggled down the stretch when injuries caught up.
One of Stanton's main goals in 2014 was to play in every game. He was on his way, until he was struck in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball at Milwaukee on Sept. 11 -- game No. 145. The devastating injury left the two-time All-Star with multiple facial fractures and dental damage.
Stanton, who turned 25 in November, has emerged as one of the young faces in the game. His profile rose even more when he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract on Nov. 19. But with the richest deal in North American sports history comes additional responsibilities and expectations.
At the time, Stanton said making such a long commitment was the toughest decision of his life.
"When you make any decision, the tough part is before it," he said. "You've got to jump in 100 percent after you make the decision. I'm 100 percent with it."
In 2014, the slugger certainly lived up to his big billing, becoming the first Marlin to lead the NL in home runs (37). He finished second in RBIs with 105. Stanton finished second to Clayton Kershaw in the NL MVP voting.
With 155 career homers, the Sherman Oaks, Calif., native is tied with Dan Uggla for the Marlins' franchise record.
The next step is the team goal of reaching the postseason.
"With the young teams, the talent is always there," Stanton said. "Once you get a few years in the league, you're not a prospect anymore. You're a big leaguer. That's the transition a lot of these guys are making now that we need to send us into the next level."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.