Stanton returns to cleanup spot for Marlins

Stanton returns to cleanup spot for Marlins

Stanton returns to cleanup spot for Marlins
MIAMI -- The Marlins' biggest threat is back in the cleanup spot.

On Sunday, Giancarlo Stanton was moved up to the fourth spot, after being slotted fifth since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 7.

Carlos Lee had been anchoring cleanup since Stanton underwent surgery to remove two cartilage chips in his right knee on July 8.

Initially, the Marlins were being cautious about how regularly to play their 22-year-old All-Star. He was given periodic days off to avoid adding extra stress to his right knee.

Also, Stanton was producing in a big way in the fifth spot. In his 23 games since returning from the DL, the slugger was batting .310 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs.

"I don't want him to change anything," hitting coach Eduardo Perez said of batting fourth. "I want him to stay the same. I want him to just play his game, and just realize that his game is exactly what we need. We don't need more, we don't need less. We just need him to be himself."

No matter where he is batting, Stanton remains a threat.

"We've made good pitches to Giancarlo Stanton," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We don't like him when he gets in the batter's box. He still puts the fear of God in you. When he gets his 550 at-bats through a season and stays healthy, there's no telling what kind of numbers he's going to put up."

Stanton entered Sunday riding a seven-game hitting streak.

"I think right now it has been great that he's had Carlos hitting in front of him, to pretty much show him how to lead the way," Perez said.

Moving Stanton up in the order puts him directly behind Jose Reyes, who has been batting third since Miami traded Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers on July 25.

"He's going to have some speed directly in front of him," Perez said. "He's going to have to go out there and still be aggressive. It's not about allowing Reyes stealing to get to second. He knows that if he hits a double, Reyes will score."

Stanton is one of the most dangerous players in the game. Entering Sunday, he had 29 home runs and 73 RBIs to go with a .290 batting average and a .597 slugging percentage.

Showing what a force he is, consider, since Aug. 7, he had 27 hits, with as many of them being home runs as singles. He had 10 of each. His other seven hits in that span are doubles. So 17 of those 27 hits are for extra bases.

When the season opened, Stanton batted cleanup, and he held the spot for 29 games, belting four homers and driving in 14 runs. His average in the slot was .271.

In 38 games while batting fifth, he was batting .325 with 14 homers and 39 RBIs.