Giancarlo excited for second go at HR Derby

Giancarlo excited for second go at HR Derby

MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton endured one of the worst offensive first halves of his career, which is why he doesn't have any qualms about participating in the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night in San Diego.

"Have you seen my swing the first half?" the slugger joked. "I feel like it's gonna line me back up."

Stanton, who cranked four home runs over a two-game stretch against the Mets this week, has heated up of late -- just in time for the Derby. Miami's slugger will take his 19 home runs into the event as he goes head-to-head with Seattle's Robinson Cano in the first round at Petco Park at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can watch along on ESPN and MLB.com.

A three-time All-Star, Stanton will step foot in the box for his second career Home Run Derby, albeit not as an All-Star. The 26-year-old stole the show in the 2014 event by reaching the finals with tape-measure shots in Minnesota at Target Field.

In both 2012 and 2015, Stanton was expected to partake in the Derby but could not attend due to injuries. So when he found out a spot was open on the National League's lineup this year, he figured, "Why not?"

"I missed out on two of them," Stanton said. "I was right there a couple days ahead and had to pull out twice. I look forward to it."

Home Run Derby game | Home Run Derby coverage

Like 2014, Stanton is a favorite to take home this year's trophy. He clearly has the power to last long in the event, but he knows after his first experience that it's more of a marathon than a race.

"Don't let my bat drag," Stanton said of advice to himself. "You want to lift and hit one twice as far as the one before but just stay right there."

While some skippers are against the Derby for fear of swings being altered, Marlins manager Don Mattingly supported Stanton's decision -- one that he wasn't even aware of until he read about Stanton's selection on Thursday night.

"I don't buy it," Mattingly said of the notion that the Derby will hurt his slugger's swing. "As long as he wanted to do it, it's a good thing."

Stanton destroys baseballs

The support extended to Stanton's teammates, as well. All-Star and fellow outfielder Marcell Ozuna said he can't wait to cheer on Stanton in the event with Miami's other two All-Stars, A.J. Ramos and Fernando Rodney.

"It's gonna be exciting," Ozuna said. "Everybody knows he could win it. I'm gonna be the bottle guy and bring the towel and everything. It's gonna be fun."

Two years ago, then-manager Mike Redmond threw to Stanton in the Derby. This year, Stanton opted to take the team's main batting-practice thrower with him to Southern California: Pat Shine, the Marlins' Major League administrative coach.

Statcast: Stanton's long drives

Besides the itch Stanton has had to show off his power on a national scale, the Derby's location was also a draw. Stanton was born in Panorama, Calif., and attended Notre Dame High School, which sits just three hours north of Petco Park.

"I'm really excited. It's a lot going on at once," Stanton said.

In 16 career games at Petco Park, notorious for its unfriendly dimensions to hitters, Stanton has five home runs. He said he isn't worried about the dimensions because he plays his home games in the spacious Marlins Park.

"People always complain about San Diego, but we play in the biggest park," Stanton said, "so I think it'll be good. If I can hit them out of here, then we'll be all right there."

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.