Stanton, Hayes have LA homecomings

Stanton, Hayes have LA homecomings

LOS ANGELES -- Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton could barely keep still. His head bobbed back and forth and his legs refused remain in one place as he addressed the media before Monday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The pregame jitters were reminiscent of a rookie about to make his Major League debut. But Stanton's extra adrenaline was the product of a different kind of first.

Stanton, whose Marlins debut happened on June 8, was about to play his first game in front of family and friends at Dodger Stadium.

"It's eye-opening," Stanton said of playing in the stadium where he watched so many games as a kid growing up in the Los Angels area. "It almost feels in my body like it's my debut. That much excitement because probably everyone I ever met or even said 'Hi' to will be here tonight."

The first Major League game that Stanton remembered going to was at Dodger Stadium, and he said that doesn't have any idea about the number of times he's watched a game here.

"I used to come every year for [photo day]," Stanton said. "I've sat all around here. I usually sat in the bleachers because those were the cheap seats."

As many games as Stanton saw at Dodger Stadium, Monday marked the first time he took the field as a player. During Stanton's sophomore year at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., he fell one game short of playing in CIF-SS championship game at Dodger Stadium.

Stanton wasn't the only Marlin who enjoyed a California homecoming on Monday. He wasn't even the only Notre Dame alum.

Though catcher Brett Hayes wasn't in the lineup on Monday, he said that he was excited to dress for a game in his hometown park as a Major Leaguer.

Just like Stanton, Hayes said that the first game he remembers attending was at Dodger Stadium, and just like Stanton, he said that he's received a bunch of ticket requests since people found out when the Marlins would be in town.

"I left about 20 tickets for my family, and then, I want to say, about 30 or 40 other people bought tickets and are going to be sitting in the same area," Hayes said.

While Hayes is six years Stanton's senior, he still heard about a young phenom turning heads at Notre Dame earlier this decade.

"When I first heard about him, I first heard about him as a football player," Hayes said.

"[In 2006] I was playing in Greensboro and I gave him one of my wooden bats. It was like a toothpick in his hands. I was like, man, if this guy picks baseball, he's going to be ridiculously good."

Stanton, the Marlins' second-round selection in the 2007 draft, is currently hitting .207 (17-for-82) with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 21 games.