MIAMI -- Mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, Giancarlo Stanton got some early work in on Friday afternoon. For about 45 minutes before the team came out to stretch, the three-time All-Star took batting practice on the field, working closely with hitting coach Barry Bonds and manager Don Mattingly.
But there was no immediate turnaround for Stanton as he went hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts in Miami's 4-1 loss to the Nationals at Marlins Park.
Even though Stanton is now hitless in his last 16 at-bats with nine strikeouts, Mattingly isn't ready to make any dramatic lineup changes. Stanton projects to remain in the cleanup spot, even as he has gone 9-for-57 (.158) with three homers and 25 strikeouts since May 3.
"Not at this point," Mattingly said regarding moving Stanton from the fourth spot. "He's one of our guys. He's a big part of our club. He's going to hit his way out of it. It's something, if he needs a day off, we just had a day off. We're going to keep going."
The 16 straight at-bats without a hit is the third-longest drought of his career. In his 2010 rookie season he had an 0-for-31 stretch, and he went 17 at-bats between hits in 2013. His last hit was a home run in the sixth inning last Sunday at Washington. The slump has lowered Stanton's season slash line to .214/.327/.486.
The Marlins were off on Thursday. They had played seven games in six days on the road prior to opening their homestand.
Literally hands-on on Friday, Bonds actually got in the box and took some swings, all the while offering advice to Stanton.
But fixing a hitter in a slump can be tricky, because the Marlins are trying not to overcomplicate things.
"You have to be careful with what you say and how you present it," Bonds said. "I've got to have the right questions for him, and we have to be on the same page. He expressed some things that he likes to do, and that also helps me. Now, when I'm looking at things or watching film, or whatever, I can see what he likes to do, and I can help guide him back to what he needs to do, and what has worked for him in the past and what can help him in the future."
One of the objectives of the early batting practice was to get Stanton tracking pitches. He had been doing much of his recent early work inside, in the batting cages.
"Just doing the little things. That's it," Bonds said. "I just stepped in there to give him a couple of breaks. That's pretty much all I did. I didn't do anything else. It's just tracking the baseball."
Some drills are best done on the field, which was tough on the road trip due to inclement weather in Washington and Philadelphia.
"We haven't had time to come out early and stuff like that," Bonds said. "We've been on the road traveling. It's been raining everywhere we go. We had some early hitting sessions set up on the road, but just really couldn't get to it. He wanted to get out and just work on some things he wanted to work out."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.